Class Surveys

What is Classification Society? What is the purpose of Classification Society?
Classification Society is an independent, self-regulating body. It does not have any commercial interests related to ship design, ship building, ship ownership, ship operation, ship management, etc. Even the ship maintenance, repairs, insurance, or chartering areas are unconnected. In establishing its Rules, each Classification Society may take the advice and review of members of the industry and institutes with relevant knowledge or experience.

1. The purpose of a Classification Society is to provide classification and statutory services and assistance to the maritime industry and regulatory bodies in respect of maritime safety and pollution prevention.
2. The purpose of ship classification is also to verify the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull for a given class. The reliability and function of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation and those other features and auxiliary systems which must be built into the ship are analysed, in order to maintain essential services on board.
3. Classification Societies develop and apply their own rules and by verifying compliance with international and/or national statutory regulations on behalf of Flag Administrations. 4. A vessel built in surveillance and guidance of the applicable Rules of a classification society may be assigned a class designation by the Society on satisfactory completion of the relevant surveys. Society thereafter carries out surveys to verify that the ship remains in compliance with those Rules. Any defect or damage must be brought  to the notice of class immediately.

5 Statutory surveys

  • The CS usually is the recognized organization by Administration to carry out surveys on its behalf. Thus CS examines and verifies that condition of ship conforms to relevant rules.
  • Administrations have rules on the basis of International Convention as per which ships must undergo periodic survey inspection.
  • A 739 (18) and A 789 (19) give guidelines and standards for entrusting ROs and make them mandatory through SOLAS XI/1.
  • If required a CS can withdraw statutory certificate and notify the Flag State and the Port State for further action. 

What are the joint  efforts by leading classification societies?

  • Detailed procedures and guidelines are being prepared by LR, ABS and DNV. They, with the individual research have planned to harmonies basic design criteria. Development of a common scheme is to improve transparency. 
  • Stricter transfer of class agreement; reasons for class withdrawal; and details of overdue items to be published on the web site of losing society.
  • Common standards for training and qualification of surveyors has been developed. The similar inspection procedure and rating for voluntary CAP would discourage fly by night operators and class hopping.

What is a Class Notation?
Earlier 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 excellence of its construction and its adjudged continuing soundness (or otherwise). Equipment was G, M, or B: simply, good, middling or bad. In time, G, M and B were replaced by 1, 2 or 3, which is the origin of the well-known expression ‘A1’, meaning ‘first or highest class’. SUL meaning sarvottam lunger, meaning the best anchor or equipment is a class notation by IRS.

What is IACS?

  • The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) is a technically-based organization consisting of thirteen marine classification societies headquartered in London.
  • By the virtue of IACS, the member societies can discuss, research and adopt technical criteria that enhance maritime safety. Most of the world’s cargo carrying ships’ tonnage is covered by the classification standards set by the thirteen member societies of IACS.
  • Although IACS is a non-governmental organization, it also plays a role within the International Maritime Organization (IMO). IACS provides technical support and guidance and develops unified interpretations of the international statutory regulations. Once adopted, these interpretations are applied by each IACS member society, when certifying compliance on behalf of relevant flag States.
  • IACS has consultative status with the IMO, and in spite of being a non-governmental organization, has observer status with IMO. Thus, IACS develops and applies technical rules that are reflective of the aims embodied within IMO conventions.
  • The General Policy Group is made up of a senior management representative from each member society. The GPG develops and implements actions giving effect to the policies, directions and long term plans of the Council. The chair of GPG is taken by the Member holding the Council chair. The position of Chairman of the Council is rotated between the members on an annual basis. The technical development work of IACS is undertaken by a number of working parties (WP), the members of which are drawn from the various specialized fields of the member societies.

How is CSR connected to IACS?

  • The relationship between the two is evident from the following:
  • By the end of 2005 the Common Structural Rules for Tankers and Bulk Carriers were adopted by the IACS Council for implementation on 1 April 2006. The new rules are based on sound technical grounds, and achieve the goals of more robust and safer ships.
  • Procedures pertaining to development of IACS / CSR for Double Hull Oil Tankers and Bulk Carriers are detailed in IACS Procedure Volume 4.
  • CSR maintenance program is executed via the IACS CSR Knowledge Centre (KC).
  • The Common Interpretations are published on the IACS web site without delay in order to assist its Member Societies and Industry in implementing the CSR in a uniform and consistent manner.

What is Condition of Class & Memorandum?
Condition of Class & Memorandum are the various remarks issued by class in respect of the status of vessel’s condition  Any query or doubt in relation to the meaning of memoranda / recommendations / conditions of class are to be addressed to the Classification Society concerned.

Recommendations/Conditions of Class
‘Recommendation’ and ‘Condition of Class’: Both mean the same. CS provides  a specific time limit to carry out repairs, surveys etc in order to retain class.

It includes other information of assistance to the surveyor and owners.

Thus, it may, for example be notes concerning materials, etc, which, though deviating from the technical standard, does not really affect the class. A shearing caused on gunwale during cargo operation neither affecting the overall strength of the hull nor the operational safety.
The memoranda may be in respect of the recurring survey requirements.

What are different surveys Under Class?
The surveys are to be carried out to ensure that the condition of the hull, machinery, equipment and appliances are in compliance with the applicable Rules. It is the owner’s responsibility to properly maintain the ship in the period between surveys. The owner must inform the Society of any condition that may affect the continued conformance of the ship with the Society’s Rules.

Initial survey to assign Class 
Class is assigned to a vessel upon the satisfactory review of the design and surveys during and after construction to verify compliance with the Rules of the Society. The society issues its “Certificate of Class for Hull and Machinery” along with trading and statutory certificates from the flag state of the ship. On the basis of the Certificate of Class  underwriters insures the ship. If it ceases to be valid, the vessel’s insurance would no longer be in place. These certificates are valid for five years, but each year, during a window of three months before the date and three months after, an Annual Survey must be carried out by the classification society surveyors. The ship’s Class Certificate shall be endorsed accordingly.

Class maintenance
In order to retain the class, various surveys must be done. They are as follows:  

  1. Class renewal survey or special survey.
  2. Intermediate survey
  3. Annual survey.
  4. Bottom/docking surveys (including tailshaft survey}
  5. Boiler survey, machinery surveys. 6. Surveys of items associated with the maintenance of additional class notations.

The Special Survey or class renewal survey
The Special Survey or class renewal survey takes place in dry dock, every five years and involves more thorough inspection of the ship and machinery. The survey is conducted to ensure whether the structural integrity remains in conformance with the standards contained in the relevant Rules. The areas of substantial corrosion, significant deformation, fractures, damages or other structural deterioration are identified.

  • The hull examination may be supplemented by ultrasonic thickness measurements as specified in the Rules or in areas where surveyor feels it is required. Damaged structure is cut out and replaced with new material where needed, worn components and parts renewed.
  • The propeller is removed and the tail shaft drawn out to examine the bearings. The bearings of the rudder are checked. The steering gear is stripped down and overhauled. Underwater apertures that admit cooling water into the ship will be closely scrutinised.
  • The anchor cable is ranged and inspected.
  • The refrigeration, electrical, control engineering and main and auxiliary machinery are examined.
  • The special items of equipment pertaining to the ship’s type, such as cargo pumps and inert gas systems are examined.

A maximum extension for a period of three months after the due date may be allowed but the next period of class will start from the due date only.

Annual surveys
Annual surveys are to be carried out within a window from three months before to three months after each anniversary date. The ship is generally examined and certain tests are conducted to ascertain that the ship is in a general condition which satisfies the Rule requirements

Intermediate survey
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.

Bottom / Docking survey
This can be  a dry-docking survey, or an in-water survey. A bottom/docking survey is the examination of the outside of the ship’s hull and related items. An in-water survey in lieu of a dry-docking survey may be allowed considering: type and age of the ship; paint used on hull; clarity of water;  and that it not harmonised to special survey. The bottom survey is to be done on two occasions in the five-year period of the certificate of class with a maximum of 36 months between surveys.

When is a class suspended?
Class may be suspended following a decision made by the Society when one or more of the following occurs:

  • When a ship is not operated in compliance with the Rule requirements.
  • When a ship proceeds to sea with less freeboard than that assigned.
  • When the owner fails to request a survey after having detected defects or damages affecting the class.
  • When repairs, alterations or conversions affecting the class are carried out without requesting the attendance of a surveyor.

The class is automatically suspended:

  • When the class renewal/special survey has not been completed by its due date or within the time granted in special circumstances for the completion of the survey;
  • When the annual or intermediate surveys have not been completed by the end of the corresponding survey time windows; and
  • where the owner fails to submit the ship to a survey in accordance with a special requirement.

Withdrawal of class
The Society will withdraw the class of a ship when:

  • It is requested by the owner;
  • The class has been suspended for more than six months;
  • The ship is reported as a constructive total loss and the owner does not advise his intention to repair the ship;
  • The ship is reported lost;
  • The ship will not trade further as declared by its owner.

Withdrawal of class takes effect from the date on which the circumstances causing such withdrawal occur.

Notification of suspension or withdrawal
When class is suspended or withdrawn, the Society will:

  • inform the owner, flag Administration and underwriters; and
  • Publish the information on its website and convey the information to appropriate databases.

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