Classification societies are organizations that establish and apply technical standards in relation to the design, construction and survey of marine related facilities including ships and offshore structures.
The vast majority of ships are built and surveyed to the standards laid down by classification societies.
These standards are issued by the classification society aspublished rules. A vessel that has been designed and built to the appropriate rules of a society may apply for a certificate of classification from that society.
The society issues this certificate upon completion of relevant classification surveys.
Such a certificate does not imply, and should not be construed as an express warranty of safety, fitness for purpose or seaworthiness of the ship. Itis an attestation only that the vessel is in compliance with the standards that have been developed and published by the society issuing the classification certificate.
2. SCOPE OF CLASIFICATION
Implementing the published rules, the classification process consists of:
A technical review of the design plans and related documents for a new vessel to verify compliance with the applicablerules;
Attendance at the construction of the vessel in the shipyard by a classification society surveyor(s), and at the relevant production facilities that provide key components such as the steel, engine, generators and castings, to verify that the vessel is constructed in accordance with the classification rules;
Upon satisfactory completion of the above, the shipowner’s request for theissuance of a class certificate will be considered by the relevant classification society and, if deemed satisfactory, the assignment of class will be approved and a certificate of classification issued;
Once in service, the owner must submit the vessel to a clearly specified program of periodical class surveys, carried out onboard the vessel, to verify that the ship continues to meet therelevant rule conditions for continuation of class.
Class rules do not cover every piece of structure or item of equipment on board a vessel, nor do they cover operational elements. Activities which generally fall outside the scope of classification include such items as: design and manufacturing processes; choice of type and power of machinery and certain equipment (e.g. winches); number andqualification of crew or operating personnel; form and cargo carrying capacity of the ship and Manoeuvring performance; hull vibrations; spare parts; life-saving appliances and maintenance equipment.
These matters may however be given consideration for classification according to the type of ship or class notation(s) assigned.
It should be emphasized that it is the shipowner who has total control overa vessel, including the manner in which it is operated and maintained. Classification is voluntary and its effectiveness depends upon the shipowner, and other interests, operating in good faith by disclosing to the class society any damage or deterioration that may affect the vessel’s classification status.
If there is the least question, the owner should notify class and schedule a survey todetermine if the vessel is in compliance with the relevant class standard.
A class surveyor may only go on board a vessel once in a twelve-month period. At that time it is neither possible, nor expected that the surveyor scrutinize the entire structure of the vessel or its machinery. The survey involves a sampling, for which guidelines exist based upon empirical experience which may indicate thoseparts of the vessel or its machinery that may be subject to corrosion, or are exposed to the highest incidence of stress, or may be likely to exhibit signs of fatigue or damage.
3. Assignment, maintenance, suspension and withdrawal of class
Class is assigned to a ship upon the completion of satisfactory surveys, undertaken in order to check compliance with the rules of the society, at...