Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

This research aimed to identify and map the common patterns of human and organizational causes underlying two types of marine accident: groundings and collisions. Generalizing patterns of causality from relatively unique and individual accident events required a structured and exploratory analytical approach. Two complementary human factor analysis tools were employed to analyse a set of 30 detailed marine accident reports produced by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Common patterns of causality were identified for both groundings and collisions. Groundings commonly resulted from a failure to adequately plan a passage, coupled with either a problem locating the vessel, or communication problems on the bridge. Collisions often involved a fishing vessel and a bulk carrier or cargo vessel, and commonly resulted from both a problem identifying the existence or speed of the other vessel and, again, an inadequate planning process. Generalizing these common causal patterns from a number of accidents identifies a range of points at which crews, managers and policymakers can intervene to forestall the development of these accidents. The method developed here may also be productively extended and applied to other accident types and used as an ongoing risk management tool.

Original publication




Journal article


Maritime Policy and Management

Publication Date





21 - 38