Wednesday, 23 November 2011

ABS warns against green ship design

A switch away from the Rena today while the Antipodean Mariner compiles some new information worthy of posting. This article has been reproduced in full from Lloyds List, as it touches on some rare tension between the usually harmonious IACS Class relationships.

While Class Societies are promoted as ‘not for profit’ societies, they are in fact competing for the Ship Owners’ dollar for fees. Globally, shipbuilding is in as poor a financial state as ship owning and Class has filled the research and development void with conceptual designs to reduce operating costs (fuel consumption,structure, ballasting methods).

The principle raised by the American Bureau of Shipping is that R&D creates a conflict of interest with Class's core service of industry self-regulation. Can a Class Society develop a new design and critically assess its in-service safety and performance?

One for the serious 'propeller-head' followers of the blog.

US class society says trend creates conflict of interest in area of ‘ethical quicksand’

Craig Eason, Lloyds List Tuesday 22 November 2011

THE head of US-based class society ABS Christopher Wiernicki has strongly criticised other societies that have begun to offer environmental ship design services, saying the trend creates a fundamental conflict of interest with their role as independent providers of safety approval and certification.

He said the move was deeply troubling and went to the heart of the underlying principle for classification, and added he was surprised to have heard no other voices questioning the growing intrusion of class into an area of ethical quicksand.

A number of classification societies, including Oslo-based Det Norske Veritas and Hamburg-based Germanischer Lloyd, offer a distinct environmental consultancy service. Both organisations have revealed vessel ideas that they think are the way forward for the industry.

“The bottom line is that, since the objectives of the designer and the class society are so fundamentally different, having class societies promote themselves as designers is dangerous,” said Wiernicki. “It undermines the basic fabric of the industry, it destroys the credibility of class as an independent third party, it has the potential to lead to poor designs that could impact the credibility of the whole industry and it upsets the essential checks and balances between commercial pressures and effective safety and environmental risk management.”

DNV president and deputy chief executive Tor Svensen told Lloyd’s List that the concepts that DNV have revealed in recent years are just that, and not designs. Earlier in the year the Norwegian class society revealed at a big press launch its Triality concept — a gas-powered ballast-free large oil tanker. Last year it revealed the Quantum, a dual-fuelled container vessel.

DNV's ECORE Very Large Ore Carrier, fueled by LNG and with no seawater ballast.

Germanischer Lloyd also revealed the ‘Best’ aframax tanker design, the result of work with a Greek university, when it put forward its thoughts on how tankers in the future could be compliant with the mandatory energy efficiency design index.

Mr Svensen insisted the DNV Quantum and Triality concepts would never be built in the form in which they were revealed to the industry. Owners would have to have the ideas within the concepts designed into their future vessels, he said. He also added that DNV knew where to draw the line between this kind of work and its role in safety classification.

When GL was approached for a response regarding Mr Wiernicki’s comments, the German class society also said the work it has pushed out to the industry for appraisal were design concepts which had no relevance for the approval process of drawings.

In an email to Lloyd’s List GL spokesman Olaf Mager wrote: “Design concepts are basically studies to evaluate what could be done in order to offer a better solution to our clients. The maintenance of such a research and development department is required by European legislation in order to be recognised by European flag states.”

GL has its own separate legal entity, Futureship, that offers the consultancy service, with its own management, staff, and systems. Dr Mager said there are walls in place towards all other entities of the GL Group. Futureship does not design vessels or create designs, nor does it produce any class drawings or similar documents.

“The fact that GL is investing in such a business is fully consistent with our long standing commitment to preventing pollution of the environment,” wrote Dr Mager. “We regard the increasing number of clients in shipping and shipbuilding working with Futureship as another good indicator that the maritime industry appreciates GL’s proactive stance towards key issues of an environmental-conscious shipping community.”

Mr Wiernicki said he was acutely aware of the differences between the design and certification disciplines and the dangers of crossing the line between them.

“When classification societies begin developing and promoting their own designs, the essential independence of class is compromised. If ABS were to promote an in-house design for an energy-efficient tanker, how could we retain our integrity if we were then to approve that same design for construction?”

With the EEDI adopted for new vessel construction earlier this year, he acknowledged that the industry was moving into a period of innovative thinking with respect to basic ship design.
But this change should not have the unintended consequence of allowing class societies to become ship designers in an attempt to increase their market share. Classification’s independent reputation with underwriters, bankers, flag and port states would be fatally compromised if it designed the ships it also classed, he said.

“The EEDI will be the design scorecard of the future. Yet the current focus on energy-efficient designs and the prospect of tough market conditions is pushing class societies to move into the design space to either gain a commercial advantage or protect their existing position.”
Wiernicki said discussions internally at ABS as well as with clients and shipyards left him unable to reconcile the concept of class acting as a ship designer which then reviews and approves the same design. He went on to state that class societies needed to choose between being class societies and designers — they cannot be both.

“I will go even further and say that they should not and cannot be allowed to, because wearing both these critical hats undermines the basic safety integrity of our entire industry. This is not a class issue; this is an industry issue,” he said.

Mr Svensen agreed that class should not be involved in ship design, and said whenever it had been offering advice, in its consultancy role, it would never approve the vessel’s designs afterwards.

He cited cases in the past where a class society worked on the designs, drawings and analysis during the conversion of a very large crude carrier to a very large ore carrier. Such conversions require complete class approval as if the vessel is a newbuilding. The same class society then approved the conversion plans, he said. He said DNV would never do that. He also pointed to onboard technology. Class should never get involved in technology development, he said.
DNV sits with a lot of competence within the staff, according to Mr Svensen, and he believed there was a role that class societies should be playing in the industry.

“I understand the concern of the future role of class,” he said. “But gone are the days of class being just a governing body saying yes or no. The expectations of us are different.”
But he insisted the consultancy work would never take a front seat, and that it was beneficial to do both.

ABS, GL and DNV are members of the International Association of Class Societies. Mr Svensen said it had no rules on how class societies should keep their consultancy work and class role separate.

The Antipodean Mariner
23rd November 2011

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