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Step To The Head Of The Class

Classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai IlassNK) has enjoyed a steady growth in usiness through the 1990s, such that its maret share stood at approximately 20 percent is of the end of November 1997. The extent jf its influence can be measured by the 6,541 /essels of a total 101.4 million-gt under class at that time, together with an overall newbuilding workload standing at 649 ships of 12.6 million-gt under construction or on order as of October 31,1997. Over the period from 1992-96, the fleet entered with the society had increased at an average annual rate of 1.36 percent by number of ships, and at 4.34 percent annually in gross tonnage. The cumulative figure for tonnage volume is especially impressive, showing a near-22 percent growth to just over 98 million-gt at the end of 1996, compared with 80.6 million gt in 1992.

In the course of the same timescale, newbuildings constructed to NK rules rose from 332 ships of 5.43 million-gt to 467 vessels of 6.72 million-gt for 1996, having reached 6.9 million-gt in 1995. The latest figures available for 1997 show a similarly buoyant level of activity, attaining 443 ships of 6.32 million-gt by the end of November. The society has a low casualty rate with respect to bulk carrier safety, despite the large number of such vessels on its register. Nonetheless, nearly 1,000 existing ships under ClassNK are affected by new international safety requirements laid down for bulkers, said to be the greatest number of any classification body. This situation has necessitated that ships be examined at a rapid pace to determine whether they meet the new criteria. To help address this need, the Japanese society is offering shipowners a calculation service for ships under class, to compute the strength of the after bulkhead of the furthest forward cargo hold, as well as the double bottom. Owners are then notified of the requisite thickness for the bulkhead plates, if the ship concerned is to satify the new requirements. The findings are then compared with the actual plate thickness, as measured by the owner, so as to determine what measures, if any, need to be taken to ensure compliance. ClassNK can also assist shipowners to determine the best possible course of action, which could entail calculating the extent of structural reinforcement needed, establishing maximum cargo densities that can be safely transported, or levels of homogeneous loading.

Through a new service launched last year, dubbed NK-SHIPS, shipowners can obtain instant access via computer or fax to the society's in-house classification database. In addition to receiving details regarding their tonnage, users will be able to obtain particulars of any of the approximately 6,400 vessels entered with NK.

The society's President and Chairman Tadashi Mono said, "This development reflects the rapid use which we are making of information technology in order to respond to the needs of our clients. Improving the speed of secure access to such information will be of benefit to everyone; it means that surveys can be planned more effectively, saving money and time and ultimately improving safety.




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