At a series of top-level meetings with regulators and Industry the Council of the International Association of Classification Societies
(IACS) deliberated the way forward for classification societies in the wake of new public and political concerns regarding safety and protection of the environment. At the recent meeting IACS met with the European Commission
(DGTREN), the IMO Secretary General and Industry leaders (BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, ICS and underwriters) to liaise with all the stakeholders in the shipping industry about the way ahead. As a result of this inclusive approach major new policy decisions for 2003 were taken.
Class is a critical element in the “safety chain”. In fact, with more resources at work than anyone else, IACS has been and intends to be even more at the forefront of making new rules and developing the technology to prevent both pollution and loss of life.
With safety at the top of its agenda several key initiatives have resulted from these recent meetings:-
· IACS is to intensify its dialogue with the Regulators in Europe and a proposal for a regular “PANEL” of Council members to meet with DGTREN is being taken forward.
· IACS Council has increased the levels of complex technical work to improve Bulk Carrier safety. New tasks have been added to an extensive work programme (over 150 tasks) to ensure that strictly correct technical solutions to this vulnerable area of shipping can be implemented as soon as possible.
· IACS, with its extensive technical resources has developed an initiative to assist poorly performing flags by offering a methodology to improve the Flag States’ control of their registered ships, particularly those which have received an unacceptable number of Port State detentions. All IACS members, in small teams, will offer their assistance to poorly performing Flags to ensure a unified approach.
· IACS member societies, together with some small groups of these members, are pooling their technical resources to achieve the best solutions to improve safety. As examples, one group of Members has combined research to harmonize rules for tankers while another research group is working on shipbuilding standards. All this research will be made available for inclusion in IACS normal work programmes, with the overall objective of greater levels of harmonization.
· The IACS Council, in its meetings with DGTREN was keen to establish the transparency of class and statutory information with regard to the survey status of ships. The information, soon to be on every IACS society website, has been developed in liaison with DGTREN and will meet the new standards of transparency set out in the EU Directives.
· The IACS Council endorsed increased scope of IACS quality audits for both the processes within the societies, and also the technical work on ships. Again the aim is to ensure the proper and complete delivery of classification services and statutory certification. This effort should also increase the confidence of the maritime industry, such as passengers, crew, cargo interests, insurers, bankers, on the structural and mechanical soundness of ships, and as recently exampled the innocent third parties affected by pollution, wrecks, or collisions. The Council considered that it was important to stress the proper application of rules that already exist throughout the safety chain as a priority in increasing safety.
· The IACS Council will continue to open up the process of decision making to those that can contribute significantly. There is a new years programme of meetings with Industry and, as above, with DGTREN. The IACS permanent representative at IMO also continues to create an intensive dialogue within this forum.