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Q. What is IACS?
Ans. IACS is the International Association of Classification Societies founded on September 11, 1968, in Hamburg, Germany. IACS provides a forum for discussion and research of thirteen marine classification societies with headquarter in London. Marine classification is a system for promoting the safety of life, property and the environment primarily through the establishment and verification of compliance with technical and engineering standards for the design and construction. The rules are established by each classification society in respect of ships, offshore units and other marine-related facilities.

Q. In what way, IACS can be considered one of the largest societies of world?
Ans.More than 90% of the world’s cargo carrying ships’ tonnage is covered by the classification standards set by the thirteen member societies of IACS.

Q. Can you trace the journey of IACS from the inception to the present day?
Ans. Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) hosted the first conference of major societies in 1939, attended by ABS, BV, DNV, GL, LR and NK – which agreed on further cooperation between the societies. A second major class society conference, held in 1955, led to the creation of working parties on specific topics and, in 1968, to the formation of IACS by seven leading societies. In 1969, IACS was given consultative status by the IMO. Its membership has increased since that time to the current thirteen members. DNV and GL have merged in 2013, to become DNV GL.

Q. How the IACS has influence and effect on IMO?
Ans. Although IACS is a non-governmental organization, it also plays a role within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), for which IACS provides technical support and guidance and develops unified interpretations of the international statutory regulations developed by the member states of the IMO. IACS has consultative status with the IMO.

Q. How are the activities governed in IACS?
Ans. IACS is governed by a Council, with each Member represented on the Council by a senior management executive. The position of Chairman of the Council is rotated between the members on an annual basis. Reporting to the Council is the General Policy Group (GPG), made up of a senior management representative from each member society. To remain a member of IACS, all members are required to demonstrate continued compliance with quality standards as determined by periodic audits.

Q. What is the role of Classification Society during the construction and life cycle of a ship?
Ans. During construction, classification society surveyors attend the vessel to verify that it is built in conformance with the drawings and to the rules. On delivery, the vessel will undergo periodic surveys by the society to verify that it is being maintained to the required standard. These surveys generally follow a five-year cycle of annual, intermediate and special surveys with the extent of the survey varying depending upon the age of the vessel or offshore unit and the type of survey being conducted.

For a vessel to remain ‘in class’ it must meet the class rule requirements at the completion of each survey. Should a vessel sustain in-service damage, the vessel’s owner advises the classification society of record so that a damage survey can be arranged. If the surveyor decides that the damaged vessel no longer meets the rules, the owner must carry out repairs to bring the vessel back into compliance if it is to remain in class.

Q. What is IACS Blue Book?
Ans. IACS Blue Book, Version February 2013 is an electronic library of technical resolutions (both past and present) adopted by IACS as a result of its technical work and provides an example of how the aims and objectives of the Association are delivered for the benefit of international shipping.
It contains:

Q. What is a classification Society?
Ans. A classification society is a non-governmental organization that establishes and maintains technical standards for the construction and operation of ships and offshore structures. A Classification Society has no commercial interests related to various issues connected to ship. The society also certifies that construction is according to these standards and carry out regular surveys in service to ensure compliance with the standards.

Q. Does the certificate of class guarantee safety and seaworthiness?
Ans. Certificate of classification from Society does not mean, a warranty of safety, fitness for purpose or seaworthiness of the ship. It just means that the vessel is in compliance with the Rules that have been developed and published by the Society issuing the classification certificate.  Classification Societies are not guarantors of safety of life or property at sea or the seaworthiness of a vessel because the Classification Society does not man, operate and maintain the ship and there is no such control in between the periodical surveys.

Q. How is the start of Classification traced to the Lloyd’s Coffee House?
Ans. London merchants, Shipowners, and Captains often gathered at Edward Lloyds’ Coffee House to casually meet, talk, etc. They made deals including sharing the risks and rewards of individual voyages. In 1760, the first classification society was registered, which subsequently became Lloyd’s Register and published an annual register of ships.

Q. What is the story behind grading of the ships as A-1, etc?
Ans. The Lloyd’s Register that was annually published, classified the condition of the ship’s hull and equipment. At that time, an attempt was made to classify the condition of each ship on an annual basis. The condition of the hull was classified A, E, I, O or U, according to the state of its construction and its present soundness. Equipment was G, M, or B, meaning good, middling or bad. Later, G, M and B were replaced by 1, 2 and 3. Thus, the expression ‘A1’ meant ‘first or highest class’. Though a Classification Society does not issue a certificate that a vessel is fit or unfit to sail, each of the classification societies has developed a series of notations that may be granted to a vessel to indicate that it is in compliance with some additional criteria that may be either specific to that vessel type or that are in excess of the standard classification requirements.

Q. How has the concept of Flag of Convenience diluted the standards?
Ans. Classification Societies typically are the recognized organizations for the flag states. Thus, Lloyd’s Register is identified with the United Kingdom and ABS with the United States. With the concept of Flags of convenience, this barrier of one country one class does not exist. This made it easier to not only take up a particular class or even change class and cause a new phenomenon; class hopping or class jumping. A ship owner, not happy with class can change to a different class for ease. This also caused competition between classes and a relaxation of the standards. To put a brake on class hopping, the IACS has established TOCA (Transfer Of Class Agreement).

Q. What functions are carried out by a Classification Society?
Ans. The classification society carries out the following activities:

Q. What is the purpose of symbols and notations used by a class?
Ans. Notations indicate specific rules which are followed. Additional voluntary notations show that the vessel conforms to a particular standard that may be in excess of that required for classification. Thus, notations refer to ship type, service, navigation and/or other criteria which have been provided by the owner and/or builder, when requesting classification.

Q. In which of the situations class is assigned to a ship?
Ans. The Class may be assigned in the following cases:

1. On completion of the new building, after satisfactory surveys.
2. On completion of a satisfactory class survey at the occasion of transfer of class between Members.
3. On completion of a satisfactory class survey of an existing ship not classed with an IACS Society, or not classed at all.

Q. In which situations a class may be suspended by a CS?
Ans. A Class may be suspended following a decision made by the Society in the following situations:

•     Ship operating while not complying with the Rule;
•     Ship sailing to sea with less freeboard than that assigned;
•     Failure to request a survey after having detected damages affecting the class;
•     Important repairs, alterations or conversions done without requesting the attendance of a surveyor.

Q. In which situations a class may automatically be suspended?
Ans. A class is automatically suspended:

Q. When is the class of ship withdrawn? What does the CS do then?
Ans. The Society will withdraw the class of a ship when:

When class is suspended or withdrawn, the Society will at the same time inform the owner, flag Administration and underwriters and publish the information on its website and convey the information to appropriate databases.

Q. What is Condition of Class?
Ans. Recommendations or Conditions of Class are different terms used by IACS Societies for the same thing, i.e. requirements to the effect that specific measures, repairs, surveys etc. are carried out within a specific time limit in order to retain class.

Q. What is Memorandum as given by a CS?
Ans. Memorandum may mean notes concerning materials and other constructional information.

It may also define a condition which, though deviating from the technical standard, does not affect the class and is of a small magnitude not affecting overall strength.  It may be reminder of a recurring survey requirements, which have the de-facto effect of conditions of class.

Q. What is the Class Renewal or Special Class survey?
Ans. Class renewal survey or Special Class Survey are carried out at five-year intervals. The Society, in exceptional circumstances may grant an extension for a maximum period of three months after the due date. The special survey may be commenced at the 4th annual survey and be progressed with a view to completion by the 5th anniversary date. The class renewal surveys/special surveys include extensive examinations to verify that the structure, main and essential auxiliary machinery, systems and equipment of the ship are in a condition which satisfies the relevant Rules. The examinations of the hull are generally supplemented by thickness measurements and specified tests. The attending surveyor assesses the structural condition, helps identify substantial corrosion, significant deformation, fractures, damages or other structural deterioration.

Q. What is Annual Class Survey?
Ans. Annual surveys are to be carried out within a window from three months before to three months after each anniversary date. At the time of annual surveys, the ship is generally examined. The survey includes an inspection of the hull, equipment and machinery of the ship and some tests, so far as is necessary and practical in order to verify that, in the opinion of the attending surveyor(s) the ship is in a general condition which satisfies the Rule requirements.

Q. When should be an Intermediate survey conducted? What is inspected?  
Ans. An intermediate survey is to be carried out within the window from three months before the second to three months after the third anniversary date. The intermediate survey includes examinations and checks on the structure as specified in the Rules to verify that the vessel is in compliance with the applicable Rule requirements. The requirement becomes more stringent with age. According to the type and age of the ship the examinations of the hull may be supplemented by thickness measurements and detailed inspection as found necessary by the attending surveyor.

Q. What is Bottom / Docking survey?
Ans. A bottom/docking survey is the examination of the hull and features on it. This examination may be carried out with the ship either in dry dock or afloat. When on blocks, the survey is referred to as dry docking survey. When afloat, it is called in-water survey. The in-water survey in lieu of a dry-docking survey will be accepted on different conditions such as the type and age of the ship and the previous history. The dry dock survey is to be done on two occasions in the five-year period of the certificate of class. The interval between two surveys cannot be more than 36 months. One of the two bottom/docking surveys to be performed in the five-year period is to be concurrent with the class renewal/special survey. For ships subject to the Enhanced Survey Programme (ESP) and 15 years of age and above, the intermediate bottom/docking survey is to be carried out in a dry-dock.

Q. What is Tailshaft survey?
Ans. A tailshaft survey is the survey of screw shafts and tube shafts and the stern bearing. The different types of surveys to which tailshafts may be subjected are:

Q. What is a Boiler survey?
Ans. Boilers and thermal oil heaters are to be surveyed twice in every five-year period. The periodicity of the boiler survey is normally 2.5 years. Steam boilers, superheaters and economizers are examined internally and externally. The boilers are to be drained and suitably prepared for the examination of the water steam side and the fire side. Where necessary, the external surfaces are to be made accessible for inspection by removal of insulation and lining.

Q. What are random or Non-periodical surveys?
Ans. Such surveys can be:

1. At the time of change of ownership, name & flag.
2. After repair, renewal work, alterations or conversion and conditions of class.
3. The port State control inspections.

The list of classification societies, members of IACS:

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