Implementation of nine of the ten sweeping safety initiatives announced by ABS, DNV and Lloyd's Register on March 15, 2001 will take place on July 1 as scheduled, the three leading classification societies have announced. An aggressive timetable was set as it was considered imperative that the classification profession reconfirm its credibility as an effective self-regulating mechanism for the marine industry. The cooperation and trust that has developed between the management and staff of the three organizations has enabled these initiatives to be quickly processed. As indicated in March, the one initiative that requires more time due to its complexity, is the establishment of common basic design criteria including hydrodynamic loads and corrosion margins for standard ship types. The process has commenced and progress will be monitored. From the outset the most contentious issue for the industry was the announced intention to align ISM with other safety control measures by linking issuance of SMC certificates to the classification of the vessel.
There has been a wide range of industry representation on this issue and the three societies are in full agreement with the responsible owners that the ISM Code can be an effective means of enhancing the safety and improving the quality of ship operations. The experience over the last three years has demonstrated that the current system, which permits a period of up to three years between audits, does not provide an effective mechanism to monitor the management of maintenance on board a vessel.
In addition, there have been too many port state detentions of vessels that are classed with one society, yet hold an SMC issued by another class society. The three societies are not demanding that the ISM certificate be issued by the class society of record, and owners will remain free to choose their ISM auditor, but the three societies will not continue to issue SMC certificates for vessels they do not class, except in a specific circumstances pertaining to management companies.
Effective July 1, the three societies will jointly implement a three-part policy relating to the issuance of ISM Shipboard Safety Management Certificates (SMC). As advised to all flag states, as of that date each of the three societies will decline to issue SMC certificates on vessels which they do not also class, and from that date each of the three societies will upon expiry decline to renew SMC certificates that they previously issued on vessels not in class with that society.
There are many fleets that are operated by an owner or shipmanager using a single auditing body for the company's Document of Compliance (DOC) and for the SMCs for every ship in its fleet, although the ships themselves may be classed with several different societies. The three societies recognize that this approach is in complete accordance with the spirit of the Code and considering that the aim is to ascertain that safety is properly managed, there is no advantage in requiring the operator to fragment the auditing of the fleet.
In this instance it has been agreed that, provided the society that issues the DOC and SMC's also classes a minimum of 25 percent of the vessels, adequate oversight of the management and operation of the entire fleet will be achieved through the class engagement. This balance provides an appropriate sample for the society to assess both the effectiveness of the management system and the quality of the fleet.
In addition to these changes in their internal ISM procedures, the three societies have also agreed to recommend to the IMO, the flag states and IACS to reconsider the current two and a half year period between audits.
The remaining eight initiatives that will be implemented on July 1, 2001 are: A common scheme for identifying, targeting and monitoring vessels that are not being satisfactorily maintained between surveys; Strengthen the Transfer of Class Agreement (TOCA); The introduction of an Early Warning System (EWS) to exchange information on sister ships; Require two surveyors in attendance for ESP surveys; To-operate with respect to the use of exclusive surveyors and introduce common standards for training and qualification of surveyors; Harmonize Condition Assessment Programs (CAP); and Increase transparency of information.