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Classification Societies

Edward Lloyd managed a Coffee House at London. To help his shipping industry clientele to exchange information regarding ships, he printed a sheet of all the news he heard at the Coffee House. The Coffee House customers formed the Register Society in 1760 and printed the first Register of Ships in 1764 to give underwriters and merchants an idea of the condition of the vessels they insured and chartered. In 1834, the organisation was reconstituted as Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping and the first classification Rules were published.

The Classification Societies contribute to the development and implementation of technical standards for the protection of life, property and the environment. Classification societies establish and apply technical requirements for the design, construction and survey of marine-related facilities, principally ships and offshore structures. These requirements are published as classification rules. These societies maintain significant research departments that participate in the on-going development of technical safety standards. Classification rules are developed to contribute to the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull and its appendages, and the reliability and the function of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation and those other features and auxiliary systems which have been built into the ship in order to maintain essential services on board for the purpose of safe operation of the ship. In establishing its rules, a class society may also draw upon the advice of leading members of the industry who are considered expert in their field.

Classification societies are not guarantors of safety of life or property at sea or the seaworthiness of a vessel because the classification society has no control over how a vessel is operated and maintained in between the periodic surveys which it conducts. The owner of a ship that has been designed, built and tested in accordance with the appropriate rules of a class society may apply for a certificate of classification from that society. The society issues this certificate if it is verified, upon completion of relevant plan approval and surveys, which the ship complies with the rules. All classification surveys are carried out by qualified surveyors using mainly visual inspection and sampling techniques. They do not consist of comprehensive verification or monitoring. Should any defects that may affect class become apparent, or damage be sustained, the owner of the ship, or the shipyard when it is being built, is required to inform the society concerned without delay. More than 90% of the world’s cargo carrying tonnage is covered by the classification design, construction and through-life compliance Rules and standards set by the following ten Member Societies and one Associate of International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). Compliance with the Quality System Certificate of Conformity (QSCS) is mandatory for Members and Associates (IACS).

             •  American Bureau of Shipping Ship Classification Society
•  Bureau Veritas
•  China Classification Society
•  Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
•  Germanischer Lloyd
•  Korea Register
•  Lloyds Register
•  Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)
•  Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Tokyo)
•  Russian Maritime Register of Shipping
•  Indian Register of Shipping (Associate Member)

Classification societies may also act as Recognised Organisations for Flag States, verifying the same vessel’s compliance with international and/or national statutory regulations. Proper and effective construction depends upon the designer and shipbuilder doing their jobs properly. Safe operation and maintenance of a ship for its intended service ultimately depends on the shipowner, the shipowner’s representatives and the crews, who operate, manage and maintain the ship on a day to day basis.

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