Stanford Study Shows That Oceanrouting Reduces Casualties

A recently released statistical study of weather-related ship casualties shows that the use of oceanrouting services substantially reduces casualty rates. Performed by a statistician from Stanford University, the study examined more than 150,000 crossings of the North Atlantic and North Pacific during a four-year period between 1978 and 1982. Through several statistical methods it was determined that ship operators using an oceanrouting service can expect at least 15 percent fewer weather-related casualties than operators who do not utilize such a service.

Until now the hypothesis that ship routing reduces casualty rates had not been proven, although organizations such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had in fact acknowledged the value of routing ships at sea. In 1983 IMO passed a resolution that said in part: the IMO, "Being of the opinion that the practice of weather routing has proved a benefit to ship operations and safety of ships as well as their crews and cargoes . .. recommends governments to consider encouraging ships under their flags to make use of weather routing services provided by marine meteorological services on voyages either across the North Atlantic or the North Pacific." At the same time, this was seen by many as a major endorsement of weather routing services, but further data that could remove doubt about the issue was requested by various interested parties.

The study's author, James N.

Miller, used data supplied by Lloyd's of London Press for the total number of Atlantic and Pacific crossings. The casualty data was provided by Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Oceanroutes, Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., one of the world's largest private firms in the field of marine meteorology and ship routing, supplied data covering more than 26,000 vessels the company routed during the four-year study period.

Along with the oceanrouting variable, the study also considered other factors assumed to affect the casualty rate of ships such as age, type, tonnage, flag of registry, ocean crossed, and season of crossing. The study pointed out that, of the variables considered, a vessel's age has the greatest effect on casualty rates. The variables were significant in the following order: vessel weight, season of crossing, type, flag, ocean of crossing, and whether oceanrouting services were employed.

Oceanroutes' vice president of ope r a t i o n s , Gary Kanemoto, pointed out that although the decision to use routing services has a smaller effect on the casualty rate than the other six variables, "it is most often the only variable over which an operator has control." Furthermore, the study determined that when the effects of the other variables were statistically removed, the routing decision continued to have a positive effect on casualty rate.

The Salvage Association concurs with the results of the study, and has sent summaries to each of its worldwide offices. The study is available for review in the Association's headquarters in London, or in any of Oceanroutes' branch offices located in Aberdeen, Hong Kong, Houston, London, New York, Perth, Singapore, and Tokyo.

For a copy of the study and additional information on Oceanroutes' services,

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