Tag Archives: Vessel Classification

Vessel Classification- A quick revision guide


Some Handy Revision Notes on Classification Societies and Ship Classification

It feels like time for another pause in this blog in the stream of vessel Certification posts,  so I will dip my toe into a topic that pervades into most areas of a vessel’s documentation, ‘Class’. 

What is a classification Society?

A classification Society is a an organisation that published rules for the design, CertLRconstruction of ships. Compliance with these rules is required for obtaining insurance, P&I cover, assisting in vessel sales and obtaining finance.

That is a Commercial service and not a statutory one.

Requirements of a Classification Society

  • To Publish its own classification Rules in relation to the design
    construction and survey of ships
  • To apply, maintain and update those Rules and Regulations
  • To Verify compliance with these Rules during construction and periodically during CertBVa classed ship’s life
  • To publishes a register of classed ships
  • Is not controlled by, and does not have interests in, ship-owners, shipbuilders or others engaged commercially in the manufacture, equipping, repair or operation of ships
  • Is authorised by a Flag Administration as defined in SOLAS Chapter XI-1, Regulation 1

Who are the Classification Societies?

More than 90% of the world’s cargo carrying tonnage is covered by the classification of the twelve Member Societies of IACS,  The International Association of Classification CERTIACSSocieties.

Click here for the IACS website>

Members of the IACS

There are many other organisations offering classification services that are not part of IACS but not all of these meet all the requirements listed earlier in this post.

Listing of all classification Societies on the UK P &I club website>

What is the purpose of  ship classification?

  • To verify the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull and its appendages
  • To verify the reliability and function of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation and auxiliary systems

A certificate of class states that a vessel is in compliance with the Rules of the CertABSclassification society and does not act as a warranty of safety, fitness for purpose or seaworthiness of the ship.

What are the Statutory activities of Classification Societies?

Classification Societies have moved beyond commercial assurance activity to becoming CertPolandan integral part of many flag state’s compliance with international shipping legislation. Many surveys required by SOLAS or other international conventions are now conducted by classification societies. The authority for this contained within the first chapter of SOLAS.

(a) The inspection and survey of ships, so far as regards the enforcement of the provisions of the present regulations and the granting of exemptions therefrom, shall be carried out by officers of the Administration. The Administration may, however, entrust the inspections and surveys either to surveyors nominated for the purpose or to organizations recognized by it. SOLAS Chapter 1 Regulation 6

The UK’s procedures for this delegation is referred to as Alternative Compliance Scheme (ACS). See MGN 568> 

IMO Resolution A.739(18) lays down mandatory minimum requirements for Recognized organisations (ROs). Click here to view the Resolution on the sjofartsverket website.

Guidelines for the authorization of organisations acting on behalf of the administration,

A quick history of Ship Classification

Lloyds coffee house was opened by Edward Lloyd in 1686. The shop became popular with seafarers, shipowners and merchants, and Edward Lloyd provided them with shipping news.

In 1691 the coffee shop was moved to Lombard street and the where it was continued to be used as a venue to discuss marine insurance,

The insurers developed a system for the independent technical assessment of the ships presented to them for insurance cover. This system enabled non seafaring underwriters and judge the risk that the vessels posed.

In 1760, the Lloyds Register Society was formed by the customers of the coffee house, which was followed in 1764 by production of the the Lloyds ‘Register of Shipping’.

From 1829 onwards other Societies were founded around the world replicating the work of Lloyds

In 1968 IACS was formed to establish minimum technical standards and ensures their consistent application

After that brief introduction to vessel classification this blog will soon return with another certificate.  This journey through certification is soon to reach its destination.


Part 1 of a new series of Really Handy Study guides has just been launched

A revision guide covering vessel certification; more of the series are on the way.

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