ABS has broken through the 120m gross ton mark to establish a new all time fleet record. The classification society has benefited from the current active newbuilding market and a steady inflow of existing vessels changing class. With more than 1,400 vessels of almost 25 m gt currently on order to ABS class, the fleet is expected to grow further in the short term.
The recent strong interest in new Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), which include jack ups and semisubmersibles has also boosted the ABS orderbook. The society has maintained its dominant position as the leading provider of classification services to the offshore sector with 50 MODUs (43 jackups and 7 semisubmersibles) currently on order to ABS class at yards in Singapore, China and the US with several more contracts pending.
ABS had passed its historic fleet record, originally set in 1981, during 2004. Since that time the ABS-classed fleet has established new highs every month until reaching the 120m gt mark in late September.
“This is a significant milestone,” said ABS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert D. Somerville. “It confirms our status as the third largest classification society, based on fleet size, and as the leading society in the offshore sector. It also validates our efforts of the last few years to develop technically superior, customer focused standards and services that differentiate ABS in the minds of shipowners.”
Somerville noted with particular satisfaction the growing influx of existing vessels that are being switched to ABS classification. “The current newbuilding market is keeping all classification societies busy,” he noted. “But when owners elect to change class on ships already in their fleet, it is clear evidence that we are providing superior services.” Transfers have helped boost the overall ABS fleet by almost a half million gross tons in just the last five months.
Within the newbuilding sector ABS has continued its traditional strength in classing tankers with 166 vessels aggregating more than 9m gt on order. This includes particular strength in the suezmax and panamax sectors with a 34 percent and 36 percent share respectively of these vessels on order to ABS class. It also continues its recent successes in the containership sector with 112 vessels approaching 5m gt that will be built to ABS class for European and Asian owners. Within the offshore sector, the strong MODU orderbook is supplemented by contracts for various production units including the Agbami FPSO. The $1 bn project will deliver the world’s largest and most sophisticated FPSO. And ABS currently has one of the largest LNG orderbooks with 34 LNG carriers currently on order to ABS class at yards in Korea, Japan and China.
“For the last several years ABS has been investing heavily in developing new technologies to meet the projected challenges of a rapidly changing classification market,” said Somerville. “Those investments are paying off as ship owners and ship yards appreciate the substantive improvements in service delivery that have resulted.”
Some of that technology has been directed towards the ships themselves, addressing the very sophisticated analysis required for the new generation of very large LNG carriers and the mega containerships that
are being ordered. Other efforts have focused on IT developments that have significantly altered, and improved the manner in which ABS provides survey
and engineering review services.