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NEW YORKImproved design and enhanced safety regulations have helped bring total losses of merchant ships sharply lower over the past seven years, according to the International Union of Marine Insurance.
But over the same period, partial losses have climbed more than 200%, IUMI said.
There were 67 total losses of ships larger than 500 gross tons in 2006, IUMI statistics released earlier this week showed. In 2000, there were 140 such losses.
The highest number of total losses in a single year was 182 during the 1990s, according to IUMI.
The drop in total losses is a result of "better designed and more robust ships being built," said Deirdre Littlefield, IUMI's New York-based president, in a statement.
"More stringent inspections and surveys demanded by insurers, classification societies, flag states and the port state control regime, enhanced safety and maintenance regulations introduced by the International Maritime Organization and other bodies, and the huge advances in technology and communications" are helping lower losses, she said.
As total losses have fallen, partial losses have soared, reaching 685 last year, IUMI statistics showed.
The increase in partial losses can be blamed partly on neglect of safety and maintenance by vessel owners rushing to cash in on "the highly profitable levels of maritime trade," Simon Beale, a Lloyd's of London marine underwriter and member of IUMI's executive committee, pointed out in the statement.
The statistics are available at www.iumi.com.