The first thing which must be said is that whilst a ship must be Registered it does not, in theory, have to be classed. However, bearing in mind the very nature of classification – an independent check on the condition of the vessel – it is difficult to see how an unclassified ship could obtain either Insurance or Employment considering the fact that Shippers and Charterers together with Underwriters and P & I Clubs all insist that the vessel has to be classed. This “independent check” is carried out by Classification Societies. These Societies are autonomous bodies which all run under the direction of representatives of: Shipowners. Marine Insurance. Underwriter. Shipbuilders. Professional Institutes concerned with the design, construction and running and repair of ships such as Naval Architects, Marine Engineers and Metallurgists. Classification societies draw up detailed specifications of all material used in the construction of ships and rules concerning not only the construction of all equipment on board but also the ship itself. In order to assist them in enforcing their rules and regulations they maintain a network of exclusive and part-time surveyors throughout the world. In order for a vessel to obtain a classification from a Society the following will have to happen: The plans are scrutinised and if found satisfactory approved by the Society. The building of the vessel will be supervised by a surveyor from the Society who will maintain a programme of constant spot checks and examinations to ensure that the rules of the Society are being met. He will also ensure that all material used is of a quality approved by the Society. The final sea trials of the new building will be attended by the surveyor. Provided everything is satisfactory the vessel will then be formally entered as “Classed” with the Society and a Certificate of Class will be issued.