Maritime disasters have been a tragic reality throughout history. In 2022, the world witnessed several devastating incidents on the seas and rivers, resulting in a significant loss of lives and damage to property.
Most of these accidents are a result of negligence and human error. Despite the safety measures and unlimited drills seafarers undergo onboard and ashore, it proves that more training is not the solution, but strict implementation of laws.
The following list compiles the ten worst maritime disasters in 2022, ranked according to the number of casualties and the impact on society.
Here is also a video version of this article if you prefer to watch and listen:
10. Bulk carrier collided with a fishing vessel and killed 11 crew.
A cape-sized bulk carrier collided with a Chinese fishing vessel 42 nautical miles east of the Yangtze estuary. This tragedy happened on the 31st of October at around 1830LT.
The fishing vessel, carrying 14 crew members, sank as a result of the impact. Three of the fishermen were rescued, but unfortunately, 11 remain missing.
The bulk carrier CAPE BRILLIANCE was en-route from Taicang, Shanghai to Point Samson, Australia when it struck the fishing boat.
9. Cargo ship ramming a passenger ferry carrying 50 people. 6 dead, dozens missing.
On a Sunday afternoon of the 20th of May, 2022, the passenger ferry, MV Afsar Uddin carrying around 50 people, capsized after getting rammed by the huge cargo vessel, MV Ruposhi-9.
Six individuals were killed and dozens missing as the cargo ship hit the ferry on the bow, thrusting her a few hundred meters before sinking.
The incident occurred at the Syedpur Al Amin Nagar area at approximately 2:20pm, as the ferry was en route to Munshiganj.
Videos of the incident show the cargo vessel’s bow ramming the Afsar Uddin ferry for 500 meters before the small passenger vessel sank. Passengers were seen leaping into the river to try and avoid being struck by the cargo ship.
8. Chlorine gas tank fell on a Chinese cargo ship, 14 dead and 251 injured.
In Aqaba, Jordan, a storage tank filled with toxic chlorine gas fell off a loading crane onto a cargo ship. The incident resulted in the release of a huge cloud of noxious yellow gas that caused the deaths of at least 14 people. 250 more were injured in the incident that happened on the 27th of June 2022.
The 9,400 dwt general cargo vessel Forest 6 that sailed from Djibouti was loading a container of 25-30 tonnes of chlorine using a quay crane. The wires suddenly snapped, causing the container to drop onto the deck and explode.
This is the worst maritime disaster that occurred in 2022 involving toxic gases.
Chlorine is a chemical element that is often used in industrial processes and as a disinfectant. It is a yellow-green gas that can react with water, and it is highly toxic.
7. 14 dead when a ferry with 177 people engulfed in flames in Indonesia.
On October 24th, a ferry named Express Cantika 77 caught fire in the Savu Sea southwest off Timor, near Batek island, Indonesia.
The ferry was carrying 291 people on board, and during that tragedy, 14 were found dead while 277 were rescued. Included in the casualties were 6 males and 8 females, including two children. It is believed that more people are trapped inside the ferry as the fire rages on.
Passengers had to jump into the water to escape the flames, including toddlers, and were picked up by rescuers. This is the worst maritime disaster in 2022 involving ferry fires.
Express Cantika 77 was en route from Kupang to Kalabahi, Indonesia.
6. Bahamas boat capsizing claimed 17 lives.
A tragic incident occurred shortly after midnight on the 24th of July 2022, as a boat carrying Haitian migrants bound for the United States capsized off the coast of the Bahamas. Seventeen people died, and 25 people have been rescued during the incident.
The boat was thought to have been carrying as many as 60 people when it departed from a dock off West Bay Street. It was believed to be part of a “suspected human-smuggling operation” bound for Miami.
Initial investigation revealed that the boat capsized in rough seas. This condition also hampered any rescue efforts attempted during that time as they searched for more survivors.
5. Thirty-three sailors died after the Royal Thai Navy Corvette sank in bad weather.
Royal Thai Navy Corvette HTMS Sukhothai listed and sank in the storm waters of the Gulf of Siam claiming 33 lives.
The incident occurred around 20 nautical miles off the Bang Saphan Pier in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Out of the 106 personnel on board, 73 individuals were rescued, with 3 in critical condition.
The cause of the incident is believed to be sea water leakage that led to a short circuit in the ship’s electrical systems. Because of this, a blackout was triggered rendering the pumps useless.
The navy ship began to experience an uncontrollable list to the starboard side, reaching up to 60 degrees during the late night of December 18, 2022.
4. Spanish fishing boat capsized, killing 21 crewmembers. Only three survived.
We are now more than halfway to the worst maritime disasters in 2022 and things are getting pretty intense.
On February 15, 2022, the Spanish fishing trawler, Villa de Pitanxo, tragically capsized and sank off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The Galicia-based vessel was operating with a crew of 24, and only three known survivors were rescued from the disaster. It is assumed that the twelve missing crew members have also perished, in addition to the nine confirmed deaths.
The Villa de Pitanxo was a 50-meter long vessel with a width of 10 meters, and was fishing about 450 kilometers east-southeast of Newfoundland. The trawler was operating in severe weather conditions, with waves reaching 10 meters, temperatures at minus 7 degrees, and winds blowing up to 56 kilometers per hour.
It is believed that the rough seas and a sudden stop of the main engine while the boat was being tossed by the storm may have played a role in the tragedy.
3. Offshore ship sank during a typhoon, leaving 27 crew dead.
An Offshore construction vessel sunk in the South China Sea, 160 nautical miles southwest of Hong Kong, due to typhoon Chaba.
Out of the 30 crew members on board, only three survived. Most of the 27 crew went missing as the ship sank beneath the waves on that tragic day of July 2.
Due to wind speeds of 144 kph and wave height reaching up to 10 meters, the offshore vessel broke into two after dragging her anchor in Yangjiang Anchorage.
The same weather condition proved the search and rescue operation difficult.
2. Boat capsized on a flooded river leaving 76 passengers dead.
On the 7th of October 2022, a locally-made boat capsized as it sailed through the flooded river of Ogbaru, Nigeria due to engine failure and overpowering waves.
The boat was overloaded, designed to carry 50 people, but sailed with 85 passengers fleeing the rising waters during that time. Most of them didn’t survive when the boat sank as 76 people loss their lives.
According to official reports, the ill-fated boat had an engine failure three minutes into the journey leaving it at the mercy of the surging waves. As the boat approached a collapsed bridge, the waves hit it with such force that it capsized.
1. Sinking refugee ship killed at least 100 people including women, children, and elderly.
Topping the list for the world’s worst maritime disasters in 2022 involves human smuggling of refugees and their perilous journey to cross the Mediterranean.
A migrant boat carrying up to 170 refugees from Lebanon to Europe sank leaving at least 100 people dead including women, children, and elderly.
The boat, which was organized by a Lebanese national, had set off from the port of Miniyeh, near Tripoli, Lebanon on September 20 and met its tragedy three days later.
Most of the refugees were Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians, and they were attempting to reach Italy in search of a better life. This event is one of the worst maritime disasters in the Mediterranean area.
This list for the worst maritime tragedies in 2022 is just a tip of the iceberg.
There are still many incidents involving our shipping industry including those which are not reported. In fact, these have become all too common in recent years, with many of them occurring in poorly regulated environments.
The worst of these disasters involve ferries carrying passengers who unknowingly put themselves in harm’s way in an attempt to escape their current situation.
May the winds be in your favor.