Lloyds Register of Shipping

Lloyd’s Register of Shipping and the Corporation of Lloyd’s are in fact two quite different and independent organizations though sharing the same origin and name.

In the days of Lloyd’s coffee house, underwriters collected and cataloged information concerning the characteristics and construction of individual vessels to help them in their insurance activities. This register of ships, known as the underwriters register or green book, was first published in 1760. In 1797 a dispute over classification methods prompted shipowners to publish their own book which appeared in 1799 and remained a rival register until 1834 when a common problem of finance brought about a reconciliation which resulted in the formation of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

Since then Lloyd’s Register of Shipping has remained an independent classification society, whilst maintaining a close liaison Lloyd’s Register of Shipping is a non-profit making concern and obtains its funds from fees charged for the services of its surveyors and from subscriptions to the Register book.

The society is run by the General Committee, which is composed of underwriters, shipowners, shipbuilders, marine engineers, steel makers, and representatives of various shipping organisations. All these serve voluntarily. The Register is independent of any official control but its authority is such that classification by Lloyd’s Register is accepted by all maritime governments, that statutory requirements in respect of structural strength have been met. The research and technical advisory services department is constantly engaged in the study of new developments and projects providing valuable technical advice to the industry as a whole.

The society has a research laboratory for the investigation of technical problems wherever they may arise. A special technical investigation department deals quickly with problem involving failures in ships’ machinery all over the world as well as providing special services. The technical records department houses unique records of all kinds of damage or failure occurring in ships and it is these records which owners will inspect prior to offering for a ship in the second hand sale and purchase market.

The volumes of Lloyd’s Register are published annually on web page and subscribers through the Lloyds Register website can access updated information. They include details of all merchant ships over 100 tons regardless of whether or not they are classified by Lloyds. The classification of vessels requires that they undergo a special survey every four years when the hull and machinery are inspected. In times of high inflation and increasing technology the four years survey cycle became difficult to operate and now most vessels are on a continuous hull and machinery survey cycle. The surveys are carried out by a staff of about 1500 qualified surveyors based worldwide which includes specialists in all the up to date technical fields.

Almost all the maritime nations of the world have developed Classification Societies, some of the best known include:

  • France Bureau Veritas (BV) Founded 1828
  • Germany Germanischer Lloyd (GL) Founded 1867
  • Italy Registro Italiano Navale (RL) Founded 1861
  • Japan Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK) Founded 1899
  • Norway Det Norske Veritas (NV) Founded 1864
  • USA American Bureau (AB) Founded 1862

The independent status of Classification Societies, their integrity and the nature of their work have led many of these organizations to widen their sphere of activities. Lloyds Register for example offers many specialist services from its wide range of expertise, from approval of naval architects’ plans and computer testing of hull designs to advice on marine engine lubricants and the auditing of ISO 9000 systems.