Robert D. Somerville, has been elected Chairman
of ABS. He replaces Frank J. Iarossi who has stepped down after 14 years at the head of the world’s third largest classification society. The previously announced and carefully planned transition took effect with the approval of Somerville in the post by the ABS Council following the Annual Meeting of the society in New York today. The Council is a 60 person body, representative of the maritime industry, drawn from the more than 800 worldwide members of ABS.
The Council also confirmed Somerville’s re-election as Chief Executive Officer of the classification society. Somerville, a 34 year veteran of ABS had served as President of the society since 1993.
Iarossi will remain within the ABS umbrella as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ABS subsidiary, the ABS Group of Companies. ABS Group offers a range of consultancy, certification and risk management services to industries and governments.
The ABS Council also confirmed Robert E. Kramek to the position of ABS President. In his first official act as Chairman of ABS, Somerville appointed Kramek Chief Operating Officer of the society. Kramek has been with ABS since 1998 during which time he has served as President and COO of the Americas Division of the class society.
“I am honored to assume the chairmanship of this outstanding organization,” said Somerville. “It is a tremendous responsibility, one that I will fulfill with all my heart and soul.”
Commenting on the challenges that he expects to face, Somerville singled out the continuing independence of class. “I am convinced that a strong, independent classification system is the best means available to the industry, and to governments and the general public, for promoting maritime safety,” he stressed.
“That said, I also expect that the class profession will continue to face severe pressure, particularly from governments, to demonstrate its willingness to take the tough, independent decisions that are needed if the recent significant improvements in maritime safety are to continue.”
Somerville called for a concerted effort by all those with a vested interest in the continued contribution of class to “jointly address those areas of classification activity that have been called into question so that we can further improve the services we provide and the industry’s confidence in those services.”
The new ABS Chairman complimented Frank Iarossi on his stewardship, noting that he was taking over at a time of robust financial health, a record fleet size and with all signs pointing towards continuing positive growth in ABS activities in the years ahead.