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  • Writer's pictureGreen Shift Group

What is IACS (International Association of Classification Societies)?

The purpose and function of Classification Societies The purpose of a Classification Society ("CS") is to provide classification, statutory certification, and services as a Recognised Organisation acting on behalf of a flag Administration, and assistance to the maritime industry and regulatory bodies as regards maritime safety and pollution prevention, based on the accumulation of maritime knowledge and technology.

A ship classification society or ship classification organization is a non-governmental organization that establishes and maintains technical standards for the construction and operation of ships and offshore structures. Classification societies certify that the construction of a vessel complies with relevant standards and carry out regular surveys in service to ensure continuing compliance with the standards. Currently, more than 50 organizations describe their activities as including marine classification, twelve of which are members of the International Association of Classification Societies.

A classification certificate issued by a classification society recognized by the proposed ship register is required for a ship's owner to be able to register the ship and to obtain marine insurance on the ship, and may be required to be produced before a ship's entry into some ports or waterways, and may be of interest to charterers and potential buyers. To avoid liability, classification societies explicitly disclaim responsibility for the safety, fitness for purpose, or seaworthiness of the ship, but is a verification only that the vessel is in compliance with the classification standards of the society issuing the classification certificate.

What do different Classification Societies share?

IACS is a not-for-profit membership organization of classification societies that establish minimum technical standards and requirements that address maritime safety and environmental protection and ensures their consistent application. It carries out this responsibility through its panels, expert groups, and project teams. It provides a Quality System Certification Scheme (QSCS) that its Members comply with, as an assurance of professional integrity and maintenance of high professional standards.

Dedicated to safe ships and clean seas, IACS makes a unique contribution to maritime safety and regulation through technical support, compliance verification, and R&D. More than 90% of the world's cargo carrying tonnage is covered by the classification design, construction, and through-life compliance rules and standards set by the twelve Member Societies of IACS.

IACS can trace its origins to the International Load Line Convention of 1930 and its recommendations. The Convention recommended collaboration between Classification Societies to secure “as much uniformity as possible in the application of the standards of strength upon which freeboard is based…”.

What does IACS do

- Establishes, reviews, promotes, and develops minimum technical requirements in relation to the design, construction, maintenance, and survey of ships and other marine-related facilities.

- Acts as a catalyst to assist international regulatory bodies and standard organizations to develop, amend and interpret regulations and industry standards in ship design, construction, and management, with a view to improving safety at sea and the prevention of marine pollution.

- Provides a Quality System Certification Scheme (QSCS) that its Members shall comply with to ensure professional integrity and maintain high professional standards.

IACS has a wide perspective on relevant matters through monitoring the developments in EU legislation related to shipping safety and environmental performance in addition to its technical advisory role to the IMO and its interaction with the industry & flag states. IACS technical representatives can therefore bring cross-cutting knowledge & experience from one forum to another.

IACS Members

Presently IACS has 11 Classification Societies:

ABS: American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)

KR: Korean Register

BV: Bureau Veritas Group

LR: Lloyd's Register

CCS: China Classification Society

NK: ClassNK - Nippon Kaiji Kyokai

CRS: Croatian Register of Shipping

PRS: Polski Rejestr Statków S.A. (PRS)

DNV GL: Det Norske Veritas


IRS: Indian Register of Shipping


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