Classification Societies and IACS are not the same. The history of the Class Society started in London in Edward’s Cafe. Captains inspected the sailing ships in the port of London for seaworthiness. In Edward’s cafe a register was keeping up to date by these inspections to give Edward’s clients an insight in the quality of the chartered ships. With this concept, Edward’s cafe became the center for Merchants and Underwriters.
This concept was so good that the first Class Society: Lloyd’s Register was established in 1760. At the beginning of 1800 more and more classification societies started. About One century later the class society shifted their clients from the underwriter and merchant to the owner of the ship. The business changed and underwriters relied in those days on class reports.
Nowadays SOLAS makes a class society mandatory under the chapter of construction paragraph 3.1:
ships shall be designed, constructed and maintained in compliance with the structural, mechanical and electrical requirements of a classification society which is recognized by the Administration
Often you can find the responsible class society for a ship written at the load line mark. As the load line mark is the responsibility of the flag state, you will find the flags name at the mark if the flag state does the annual inspections themselves.
Class Society: survey intervals
The inspection by a classification is more or less following the harmonized system. As the construction safety certificate from the flag state and the certificate from the classification sociiety are more or less certifying the same, one can expect the same intervals for these two inspections.
This means every year an annual with a window of 3 month before till 3 month after the anniversary date.
The second or the third year this annual is extended to an intermediate survey with the same window. Normal a dry dock will be done during this intermediate survey, except when the vessel is designed for a diving inspection instead.
The renewal survey will be after 5 years with a dry-docking. This 5 yearly dry-docking is now extended with flag state for some new vessels to 7.5 years. This means that a new vessel with the correct design and the consent of the flag state has the first 15 years only 2 instead of 3 dry-docking’s. After that the interval remains every 5 years.
One of the points of concern during the intermediate survey is the steam boiler survey. The tendency forced by economic reasons is not to stop the vessel if it doesn’t have to go to dry-dock. During a port stay of twelve hours, managers force the crew to open the boiler for internal inspections. This means that the cooling down and the warming up period of the boiler will not be according
the technical manual. This can lead to thermal tension and cracks inside your boiler.
The classification society is in most cases involved in different kind of survey, audits and inspections. First they will always do their own surveys which are required for the class certificate.
different Class Society Surveys
- during new-building, when the yard is the client, the new building surveys including all component surveys
- During the life time of the ship the regular surveys for the certificate like annual, intermediate and renewals, boiler, dry dock, in water
- During the lifetime of the ship the continuous machinery, hull and reefer surveys
- Surveys for transfer of class
- Condition surveys
- Rectification of conditions of class
- Damage surveys. As soon as there is a damage the classification society has to be informed by the manager or master of the ship.
Most of the underwriters are interested to know if the class will approve a certain repair method.
different inspection and audits carried out by a class surveyor when authorized by a flag State
- Surveys during new-building, including initial surveys for load line, safety equipment
- During life time all statutory surveys or a part of it, depending on the agreements with the flag, so load line, safety construction, safety equipment,
safety radio ( for this a different radio surveyor has normally be present), all marpols I / II / IV / V / VI
- Rectifications of deficiencies
- Assist the client after a port state officer has stopped the vessel
- Necessary surveys during change of flag / owner /management / name
- ISM audits
- ISPS audits
- MLC inspections
Probably there are some surveys missing. But in most cases, the classification surveyor will visit your ship and that is probably the best time to drop a question
What is IACS
At the moment there are more than 50 different classification societies, but only 12 joined force in the IACS (International Association of Classification Societies.)
The members are: DNV-GL, Lloyd’s Register, BV, RINA, CCS, NK, ABS, CRS, IR, KR, PRS, RS
The IACS is the only non-governmental organization who helps the IMO ( International Maritime Organization) with technical issues. The Unified Requirements, the Unified Interpretation, the Technical Backgrounds are developed by the IACS and published on the website of IACS. The Unified requirements can also be found on the website of the IMO.
The IACS maintains the Bluebook , where these requirements and interpretations are combined and can be searched. Another contribution from the IACS are the Common Structural Rules (CSR) for Tankers and Bulk Carriers which are included in the Blue-book. In 2013 the different members of the IACS are working on the CSR-H for tankers and bulk carriers and when finished, those will be presented to the IMO.
The IACS publish some interesting hard copy’s on several subjects which can be found on the website.
- Bulk Carriers: Guidelines for Surveys, Assessment and Repair of Hull Structure
- Container ships: Guidelines for Surveys, Assessment and Repair of Hull Structure
- General Cargo Ships: Guidelines for Surveys, Assessment and Repair of Hull Structure
- Guidance for inspection and maintenance of double hull tankers structures
- Guidance manual for Tanker Structures
- Guidance for Coatings Maintenance and Repairs
The IACS has further some PR’s (procedure requirements) for its members published on their website. So if you are an owner / manager of a ship and considering to change the flag, you can download the procedure of the classification society who is a member of IACS. (This might not be the best example as the flag state should be contacted in the first place).
Besides the common rules, each classification society need to develop their own set of rules. The rules should contain the structural, mechanical and electrical rules for design and maintenance as this is a requirement from SOLAS.
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