IACS Council to Conduct Audit on Prestige Records

Friday, November 22, 2002
ABS has lodged a formal request with the IACS Council to direct the IACS Quality Secretary to undertake a Vertical Contract Audit of all ABS records relating to the tanker Prestige. The vessel sank off the Spanish coast on November 19 after suffering flooding from an as-yet-undetermined initiating cause and being denied access to a sheltered area of refuge by the Spanish government.

In addition, ABS has extended an invitation to the IMO, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, (DG TREN) and to Intertanko to participate in the audit. "We believe there is no precedent for the proactive, co-operative and fully transparent action we are taking," said ABS President Robert D. Somerville. In the period since the Prestige first reported damage, ABS has undertaken its own exhaustive internal review of all of its records and survey files relating to this vessel. "It has been our hope that this review would offer some clue to the possible initiating cause of the damage," Somerville said.

That review concluded that all relevant survey records and files are in full compliance with the ABS Rules and requirements and conform to all relevant ABS procedures established as part of the society's own extensive quality system. "ABS has not identified any shortcomings in the performance of ABS surveys or in the reported structural condition of this ship to explain the initiating cause of the damage," said Somerville. "We are now enlisting the assistance of the IACS Quality Secretary and these experienced and concerned industry and regulatory bodies to verify that every action has been properly reviewed and considered." A Vertical Contract Audit under the IACS Quality System Certification Scheme (QSCS) is a detailed audit of the society's records and actions on a particular ship to verify compliance with relevant Rule, statutory and IACS requirement as well conformity with the society's quality standards and procedures. "We are asking for this audit to be undertaken as quickly as possible so that any findings can be shared with all parties charged with investigating this casualty," Somerville added.

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