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
"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
"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.