ABS Expands Public Access to Fleet Information

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Carrying through on its previously stated commitment to increased transparency within the maritime industry, ABS has created unrestricted public Internet access to technical, classification and owner/operator information on the more than 9,000 vessels and marine structures in its class. The information can be found on the ABS website, www.eagle.org. It can be accessed either through the "Vessel Information" link within the "At a Glance" section on the home page, or by clicking through "Products and Services/Classification/Vessel Information".With the publication of this information in electronic format ABS will no longer publish the printed version of the ABS Record. This had been issued at least annually, without interruption, since 1867. Whereas the Record was only available for purchase, the electronic information is available free to all users.A key addition to the information that is now being made available is the inclusion of statutory survey data for those vessels registered with flags that have authorized ABS to release this information. The data in the electronic Record is divided into several, easily navigable sections including general characteristics, hull details, machinery details, survey status and owner/operator address information, among others.The posting of the electronic database has also led to an important expansion in the information previously carried on line regarding vessels subject to Withdrawal, Suspension or Cancellation of ABS class. Previously the reason given for a suspension or cancellation of the class certificate was attributed only to "Outstanding Recommendations" or "Overdue Surveys". This section now gives users information on the specific outstanding recommendations or specific surveys that led to the suspension or cancellation."We believe this a major step towards greater transparency and greater accountability within the marine industry," said ABS President and Chief Operating Officer Robert D. Somerville. "There is a total commitment to this policy within ABS and within IACS. This is an industry with an impressive and steadily improving safety record. Yet that is not the perception of many governments nor of the public which tends to view shipping with mistrust."Somerville stressed that the on-line posting of information is but one step towards the overall goal of greater transparency. "The EU and other governmental authorities are pressing the industry, and class to be more open," he said. ABS is responding to those requirements. For example it has redefined the information that has traditionally been considered contractually confidential between the owner of a vessel and the classification society."Where we believe it is necessary, we will go beyond the regulatory demands," Somerville stressed. "The manner in which ABS released information to the public in the aftermath of the Prestige incident is an example of this new openness. We have been greatly heartened by the universally positive response to our actions."Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.

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