Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IACS chairman sets out three-legged work plan

IACS chairman sets out three-legged work plan
The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) is to focus on completion of ongoing projects and strengthening its role as technical advisor to the IMO over the coming year, incoming IACS chairman Christopher J. Wiernicki announced at a press conference held in London yesterday.

These efforts will be in line with classification societies’ traditional role of ensuring the technical integrity of ship structures and machinery, and will be supplemented by work on a new “third leg of the safety stool,” cyber-security, said Wiernicki, also chairman, president and ceo of ABS.

Questioned whether IACS was working on Common Structural Rules (CSR) for large container carriers, as it has developed for tankers and bulkers, Wiernicki replied that the safety record for large containerships had generally been “very good” despite a few high-profile casualties such as the MSC Napoli and MOL Comfort in recent years.

“There’s a fundamental difference between tankers and bulk carriers and containerships,” he said, “and that’s the fact that the (containership) technology continues to move. Every day you wake up and there’s a new largest containerships – it’s been a fast moving target.”

For this reason the container sector lends itself more to themselves more to the drawing up of Unified Requirements for minimum technical and functional performance, rather than more prescriptive CSR as with tankers and bulkers.

Asked for his views on automated ships, Wiernicki was fairly sceptical. The problems were really twofold, he explained. “The first are practical: how would you handle an oil spill? And the second are psychological. I’m not sure I would get on a plane without a pilot, so I don’t foresee a vessel operating without a crew.”

Technical advances are all very well but they have their limits, ran the IACS chairman’s underlying argument, especially when they ignore the human element and the inbuilt “competencies and common sense” of good ship crews,

Over-reliance on systems also risks stifling innovation. Someone remarked that if Henry Ford had lived in this age of SMART shipping and Big Data, he quipped, “he probably would have invested in a faster horse rather than the motor car.”