Over the past three months, V.Ships, the world's largest ship management company
, has undertaken a comprehensive review and evaluation of the way in which its fleet and offices are audited for compliance with the ISM and ISO standards. The review was all the more significant as shortly all vessels will need to be audited to meet the new ISPS Code requirements, with all that that entails in terms of further costs and additional management time.
Nigel Adams, Head of Risk Management at V.Ships, comments that DNV had traditionally provided these services to the Group and had done an excellent job over the past 10 years.
"We consulted owners who were getting increasingly concerned over the cost implications of all the new requirements and for V.Ships, as managers, we were looking for ways of streamlining the whole process of certification and audit while maintaining the highest possible standards," he said.
Accordingly, V.Ships went out to three Class Societies - DNV, Lloyd's Register and ABS - and asked them to come back with specific proposals that would provide a contract covering ISM, ISO9001, ISO14001 and the new ISPS Code. The remit was not only to provide a cost effective service, but to come up with innovative proposals that would improve on services offered and would add efficiencies into the process.
"We looked for initiatives that would cause minimum disruption for staff both ashore and afloat, that would harmonise ship audits and provide ready access to support staff, probably through the location of a project manager within one of the main offices," said Nigel Adams.
Nigel Adams comments that, in his view, the catalyst for change has been the managers' and owners' concerns at yet another global certification process, ISPS, being laid at the shipping community's door with even less time for implementation training, and certification - with all that is implied in terms of cost. "We are aware that costs must be kept to a minimum but that service and quality cannot be sacrificed for savings alone," he said.
Nigel Adams said that all three Classification Societies put up excellent presentations and he believes that V.Ships approached the whole process with the professionalism that it deserves in the current environment.
"In the end we had to choose the one Class Society that we believed met our needs the best and the all embracing approach of Lloyd's Register, which, among other benefits, offered a seamless transition, won the day," he said.
With so much at stake in terms of safety, quality and global reputation, Nigel Adams points out that he sees the first year under the new arrangement as being very much an initial phase with all concerned under very close scrutiny, both internally and externally.