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Maritime accident investigation methodologies

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Whenever a naval disaster occurs, a public outcry is heard to a full investigation into the causes of the event. Although the maritime industry has an outstanding reputation in accident investigation, such investigations are hardly conducted in inland shipping or leisure craft sailing. Due to a number of serious accidents in the maritime sector and increasing interest by public and media, the philosophy of independent investigations has gained interest at a policy making level in the European Union and with international NGO's, such as the International Maritime Organization IMO. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the application of this methodology in all segments of shipping. The paper elaborates a conceptual model, principle processes and available techniques as a common orientation to safety-focused investigations. Accident investigation reports of Dutch investigative agencies are benchmarked to this model assessing the potential of the approach to all segments of shipping. It shows the applicability to minor as well as major accidents and the importance of independence. Systemic deficiencies at all levels in safety of shipping are identified and a generic applicability is demonstrated. It is concluded that independent accident investigation provides a powerful diagnostic tool for reducing the peril of drowning.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003


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