ISTEC brainstorming exercise on newbuilding guidelines

ISTEC agreed on a number of measures to further the conclusions of the meeting in Shanghai on 9 November, which recognised the desirability of encouraging the construction of ships that were more robust, safe and environmentally-friendly.


During the last 5 years, INTERTANKO has promoted the idea of a broader industry approach to a number of important aspects of shipbuilding activity, in particular the robustness of the new buildings, Class rules and their lack of uniformity, the relationship between Class, Shipyard and Owners during the building process and the quality control and Owner’s guarantee for receiving a ship “fit for purpose”.

Although developments and progress have been slow, a first major step, or breakthrough, was achieved by an important maritime industry discussion between shipowners, shipbuilders' associations of Japan, Korea and China and classification societies in Shanghai on 9 November. The meeting agreed there was a genuine need to maintain the debate with a view to ensuring safe and robust designs for the future and to further enhance the quality of new ships.

A major part of the discussions concerned the regulatory standards of the newbuildings. The meeting recognised the desirability of encouraging the construction of ships that were more robust, safe and environmentally-friendly although this may, in some circumstances, result in higher costs. Acknowledging that increased margins would provide greater longevity, strength and reliability, it was stressed that the objective of ships that were "fit for purpose" would only be met if higher standards were introduced uniformly. Additionally, these increased safety margins would compensate for the occasional human error in surveying. By ensuring universal implementation, owners, builders and classification societies would benefit from a common approach and avoid standards being lowered by competing interests within the respective industries. The critical and fundamental role of class in setting base level design standards was acknowledged, as well as the fact that owners often requested additional design margins in their specifications for new ships. However, improving the quality requires more than addressing the design itself. Equally important is the quality of the work with regard to the welding, the coating application and the installation of equipment.

The Shanghai meeting agreed that the owners' organisations should develop this subject, first in further discussions with IACS, and thereafter through continued consultation with representatives of the builders.

In accordance with this last conclusion, ISTEC agreed:

1. To set up a small group in ISTEC to review items considered appropriate to have on a list for discussion.
2. Call an Industry meeting (similar to that held in 1998 on Corrosion) with participation from ISTEC, other tanker owners, Class Societies, OCIMF and other interested parties. This industry meeting would further develop an industry view (in Spring, or late Spring of 2003) to be taken up first with IACS and then with the Associations of Shipbuilders.
3. Meet with IACS to discuss rule changes to reflect what has been agreed in the Industry meeting/Conference (late Spring or early Summer 2003).
4. Meet with Shipyards (meeting tentatively set for September 2003).

The first meeting and its scope

The first meeting of the ISTEC Working Group was held on 5 February. The scope of the meeting was to use the momentum of agreed future meetings with shipbuilders and class and address the major issues we wished to revisit with respect to new building procedures.  The first step was to review the items considered appropriate to be put on a list for discussions. The list can be viewed here. It is open and, as a second stage, each item will be assigned a priority grade.

The next step

It was agreed that each of the issues listed needed to be defined and analysed to establish the order of priority. The methodology to evaluate each item should include realism (expectancy to succeed/fail), its cost/benefit and its place in a natural sequence of these developments. This activity would continue through e-mail correspondence.

Contact: Dragos Rauta