Classification Societies

Lloyd’s Register’s example was adopted in many countries and there are now many classification societies – most are good but a few have dubious reputations. The fifteen largest have formed IACS (the International Association of Classification Societies), included in this group are Lloyd’s Register, American Bureau of shipping, Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, Bureau Veritas and the Russian Register. It is normal for all charter parties to include details of a ship’s classification society and its class notation. Attention should be paid to notations because they are becoming very complicated. From an initial simple grading of overall condition, the notation has come to include much more information about machinery type, degrees of automation, specialist ratings, ice class and acceptable light loaded conditions. The classification societies will answer any questions about their notations and it is good practice to clarify any uncertainty before concluding a fixture since important information can often be overlooked. Classification societies that are not members of IACS should be viewed with caution. IACS does have a lower limit of overall tonnage before membership is considered for any candidate society and this does mean that some otherwise perfectly acceptable organisations are ineligible. But there are also some societies which operate at below acceptable standards and which are blacklisted by some port state control authorities.