Not Logged In, Login,

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Shipowners, shipbuilders and classification societies in tripartite dialogue "towards a quality and rational industry”

The unique tripartite forum of shipowners, shipbuilders and classification societies met again last week in Seoul, South Korea, to continue its dialogue and progress towards a unified approach on newbuilding standards (designing and building fit-for-purpose ships), roles and relationships (stricter class oversight and extended guarantees), and information sharing on shipbuilding capacity and demand.

This gathering was the third such meeting of industry leaders, continuing the theme of working together “Towards a Quality and Rational Industry”, following an initial exchange of views in Singapore in early 2002 and an expanded meeting in Shanghai in November 2002. All parties reaffirmed the value of the forum in providing the opportunity proactively to address common concerns on standards and also shared responsibilities to deliver fit-for purpose ships, as well as providing a means of cooperating on matters of mutual interest.

The meeting, coordinated by the Round Table of International Maritime Associations (RT - see note) and chaired by Intercargo chairman Frederick Chavalit Tsao, agreed to establish various contact and correspondence groups or task forces to work on specific issues. These include inputs to the definition of “goal-based standards” for newbuildings as adopted by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC); review of the requirements for Permanent Means of Access (“PMA”); means to provide appropriate protection of bunker tanks on new ships; issues associated with extended shipyard guarantees;  coordination of shipyard capacity and shipbuilding demand information. The next full meeting will be in late 2004 , probably in Japan.

Discussions on newbuilding standards focused on designing and building ships which are fit for purpose, and capable of transporting their cargo safely for the ship, the crew and the environment over the life of the vessel. ‘Fit for purpose’ includes ensuring operational flexibility, being maintenance friendly and environmentally conscious from construction through operation to demolition.

The meeting confirmed its support for the ongoing newbuilding standards dialogue with IMO. IACS, which is in initial discussions with the Bahamas and Greece to develop a joint submission to IMO on goal-based standards for newbuildings, welcomed input from the Tripartite Meeting, especially on the discussions on ‘fit-for-purpose’ goals relevant to the structure of new buildings.

The meeting agreed that these high level goals should include extending design life, which in turn also involves corrosion margins, fatigue life and relevant wave loads. IACS common rules will provide technical requirements to achieve these goals, initially for bulk carriers and tankers.

Ways forward to ensure effective protection of ships by coatings (both in ballast and cargo tanks) were agreed. This included acceptance of the principle of demonstrable equivalence whenever appropriate.

In discussing IMO’s impending requirements for Permanent Means of Access (PMA) on tankers and bulk carriers, the meeting unanimously supported the goal of providing safe means of access to those areas of the ship structure which might require regular close up inspections.

Industry however expressed its great concerns over the extent and detail of the prescription adopted by IMO in its technical requirements. These concerns were verified by presentations made by IACS and Shipbuilders on possible solutions and interpretations.

Industry undertook to approach flag Administrations with a view to encouraging urgent consideration of alternative measures which could be both safer and more effective in meeting the objectives of PMA

The meeting furthermore discussed the protection of bunker tanks from contact damage and bunker tank arrangements for multiple fuel segregations to suit new emission control rules for new and existing ships. It also focused on shipyards addressing the need at the design stage to facilitate the eventual recycling of the vessel, including support for the provision of a standard inventory of hazardous materials. The shipbuilders confirmed their support for the adoption of the so-called “Green Passport”, a document listing hazardous materials present on board a ship on delivery, for updating by the owner throughout the vessel’s life.

In a comprehensive agenda, other current technical issues covered included the standardisation of sea trials; proposals to harmonise requirements for the inspection and testing of components; class approval of mooring bitts and chain lockers; the development of a technical history file of main engine components; the case for removing or reducing the negative tolerance permitted for steel plates used in ship construction.

The dialogue on roles and relationships included the RT restating its belief that the guarantee period on new ships should be extended from the current 12 months to the first special survey (5 years) for all newbuildings, since this would encourage the highest building standards and provide a valuable feedback loop for the shipyards. For their part, the shipbuilders, while accepting that anything was possible at a price, voiced concerns about the implications for ship maintenance if owners were to fall back on lengthy guarantees. However, it was accepted that further discussion was warranted, and a task force was established.

This task force will also follow up on extensive discussion on class supervision and on the contractual relationships between yard, owner and class. This includes the possibility of the owner (rather then the builder) contracting class for building supervision, either through a bilateral agreement or in a new tripartite contractual arrangement.

The session on shipyard capacity and information flowconcluded that, given that global shipbuilding capacity is significantly greater than the average forecast newbuilding requirement, there is aneed for more accurate and internally consistent information on shipyard capacity, as well as on future shipbuilding demand. A trial think-tank has been established to report back on options for the structuring and coordination of this work, and to consider means of assessing the influence of external factors (such as changes in exchange and interest rates, and oil price variations) on the supply–demand balance in the shipbuilding sector.

Finally, the meeting heard mini-presentations on industry best practice guides, such as

  • Tanker Specification Awareness Guide (for Newbuildings)(INTERTANKO)
  • Optibulker – a series of bulkers designed to meet all the latest and newly emerging standards (INTERCARGO)
  • Health, safety and environment at new-building and repair shipyards and during factory acceptance testing – (Safety Awareness Guide) (OCIMF)
  • Standard Ship Repair Contract (REPAIRCON) (BIMCO)

and encouraged the development and greater sharing of industry-wide best practice.

Summing up the two days of meetings, Fred Tsao said, “At this meeting in Seoul, we have witnessed leaders from shipowner and shipbuilding associations and from classification societies united in their support for quality and rationality across the shipping industry. Events since our first meeting in Singapore 18 months ago have shown just how important these discussions have become. For since that time we have witnessed the "Prestige" incident and a new level of political intervention in the regulatory process, as well asthe decision taken by IMO to assume a role in developing goal-based design standards.

These developments indicate the need for owners, builders and class to work together, to strive for common objectives and to press the case for high standards of design, maintenance and operation.

I am pleased that we have established such a degree of mutual trust, and that we have agreed a programme of further workwith the establishment of working groups to advance solutions for many important subjects. Most importantly this forum has demonstrated that the shipping industry is cooperating and acting proactively to address the concerns of the day. It has recognized that the destiny of the industry should be determined by the responsible stakeholders, such as those attending this meeting.

Ugo Salerno, Chairman of IACS and CEO of RINA, who chaired the session on Standards for Newbuildings, commented “This was a very constructive meeting with tangible results achieved between the three key players in the shipping industry. A new regulatory framework and development of IACS common rules were endorsed by the meeting. Detailed technical discussion illuminated areas of concern and will help with the development of common rules. This was a great success both in terms of discussing new philosophies and detailed approaches to safety and environmental issues.

Nobutaka Nambu, Executive Director of the Japanese Shipbuilders Association, speaking on behalf of all the shipbuilding interests represented at the meeting, highlighted that “deliveries have been running at a high level for the past few years and shipbuilders are currently experiencing an exceptionally high number of enquiries and new orders, concurrent with increasing pressure from many owners for higher specification content.  At the same time, newbuilding prices have generally remained flat over the past decade and in some cases have declined.”

He also referred to the concerns of many shipbuilders that “the current order book is inflated by additional new tonnage requirements to meet recent regulatory changes (e.g. bulk carriers and tankers) as well as incremental demand for bulk carriers and container ships (e.g. for Chinese trade), and that once they have been delivered there are severe implications for the global shipyard capacity–demand balance.  The Asian Shipbuilders Forum therefore welcomes the establishment of a tripartite study group to share shipbuilding demand and capacity information, validate the accuracy and consistency of data and coordinate its distribution.”

Attendees at the meeting were senior representatives from the following organisations:


International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)

International Association of Dry Cargo Ship Owners (INTERCARGO)

International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO)

Oil Companies International Maritime Forum (OCIMF)

China Shipbuilding Trading Co Ltd (CSTC)

China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Company (CSOIC)

China Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (CSNAME)

Korea Shipbuilders’ Association (KSA)

The Shipbuilders’ Association of Japan (SAJ)

International Association of Classification Societies (IACS)

American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)

Bureau Veritas (BV)

China Classification Society (CCS)

Det Norske Veritas (DNV)

Germanischer Lloyd (GL)

Korean Register of Shipping (KRS)

Lloyds Register (LR)

Class NK (NKK)

Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)

Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RR)

[ At the meeting, the shipbuilding associations present advised that they had recently agreed to establish an informal group – an Asian shipbuilders’ forum – in order, inter alia, to coordinate their involvement with other industry bodies such as the RT and IACS. ]

Note for Editors

The Round Table of International Maritime Associations comprises BIMCO, ICS (The International Chamber of Shipping), Intercargo (The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners) and INTERTANKO (The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners).

The meeting was hosted by the Korean Register of Shipping and the Korean Shipbuilders Association and co-ordinated by INTERTANKO and Intercargo on behalf of the Round Table of International Maritime Associations.

For further information

Please contact :


Peter Grube

Tel : +45 44 36 6800  Fax : +45 44 36 6868


Simon Bennett

Tel : +44 20 7417 2857   Fax : +44 20 7417 8877


Rob Lomas

Tel : +44 20 7977 7030   Fax : +44 20 7977 7031


Bill Box

Tel : +44 20 7977 7010  Fax : +44 20 7977 7011


Richard Leslie

Tel: +44 20 7976 0660