Safety of shipping is an ever growing concern. In a summary, Faulkner investigated the causes of shipping casualties (2002, “Shipping Safety: A Matter of Concern
,” Ingenia, The Royal Academy of Engineering, Marine Matters, pp. 13–20) and concluded that the numbers of unexplained accidents are far too high in comparison to other means of transport. From various sources, including insurers data over 30% of the casualties are due to bad weather (a fact that ships should be able to cope with) and a further 25% remain completely unexplained. The European project MaxWave aimed at investigating ship and platform accidents due to severe weather conditions using different radars and in situ sensors and at suggesting improved design and new safety measures. Heavy sea states and severe weather conditions have caused the loss of more than 200 large cargo vessels within the between 1981 and 2000 (Table 1 in Faulkner). In many cases, single “rogue waves” of abnormal height as well as groups of extreme waves have been reported by crew members of such ships. The European Project MaxWave deals with both theoretical aspects of extreme waves and new techniques to observe these waves using different remote sensing techniques. The final goal is to improve the understanding of the physical processes responsible for the generation of extreme waves and to identify geophysical conditions in which such waves are most likely to occur. Two-dimensional sea surface elevation fields are derived from marine radar and space borne synthetic aperture radar data. Individual wave parameters such as maximum to significant wave height ratios and wave steepness, are derived from the sea surface topography. Several ship and offshore platform accidents are analyzed and the impact on ship and offshore design is discussed. Tank experiments are performed to test the impact of designed extreme waves on ships and offshore structures. This article gives an overview of the different work packages on observation of rogue waves, explanations, and consequences for design.