Insurers should control the ship safety classification process in the light of weaknesses exposed by the Erika’s loss, a senior tanker broker said. Insurance companies
should hold the mandate over who inspected vessels’ structural conditions and passed them as safe, an official at Marinav Shipping
and Trading said.
Since insurers pay out the claim, it is therefore in their best interest to ensure that the vessel is maintained so that risk is minimized, the broker said.
The current system is flawed because ship owners appoint the inspectors and can apply pressure to receive “flexible” treatment in return for retaining their business, he said, adding that classification societies have also failed to police the system by not ensuring that owners carry out previously required repairs before switching class.
French society BV, which classed the Erika before it switched to RINA, last week signed a new French charter aimed at improving tanker safety.
The main classifiers in the International Association of Classification Societies
(IACS) are meeting this week to discuss a number of proposals to strengthen the tanker vetting system.