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No compromise on safety, stresses IACS chairman

Hong Kong: Mr.Oh Kong-gyun, Chairman and CEO of the Korean Register of Shipping and current Chairman of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has reinforced the vital relationship between IACS and IMO and warns that there will be no let-up in standards despite difficult trading conditions.

Speaking to the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association last week, Mr Oh said:

"After a period of unprecedented economic expansion we are now facing a major global economic downturn that will impact on the entire shipping industry. We fully expect that this will pose more challenges to ship safety, shipbuilding quality, and protection of the marine environment. Simultaneously we can expect an increasing public expectation and demand on the IMO, flag administrations and classification societies to uphold and actively promote standards and policies that help protect the safety of life at sea and preserve the marine environment.

"I have every confidence that, cooperatively, the maritime community has the experience, expertise and strength to cope with these difficult times and to rise to these challenges. IACS cannot and will not accept any compromise on safety or risk to the marine environment and is ready to play its part in the maritime chain of responsibility."

Mr Oh also expressed strongly the need for maritime regulation to remain global, rather than regional, and underlined the importance of the work carried out by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  

As IMO's "principal technical adviser", IACS attends all IMO technical meetings to advise on the development and practical implementation of the standards under consideration. Mr Oh was proud to highlight the recent work on bulk carrier safety where there are now  significant IMO agreed mandatory provisions relating to the structural strength of bulk carriers that are either based upon, or provide direct reference to, IACS requirements. Other recent examples, he said, included  a significant IACS contribution to the amendments to the SOLAS and Load Line protocol regulations that refer to a revised - and, in part, mandatory - Intact Stability Code and amendments adopted to MARPOL Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code.

Mr Oh also highlighted IACS' role in developing Unified Interpretations (UIs) which are agreed practical interpretations of IMO mandatory provisions. After approval by IMO, these are often included in IMO circulars or inserted into the relevant Annex of the Convention. IACS has issued more than 500 UIs since 1998.

Mr Oh's speech was made during a brief tour of Hong Kong as part of his IACS Chairmanship. During his visit, he also met with the Hong Kong Marine Department. Topics of discussion included the IACS contribution to IMO's technical work and the impact of the economic downturn.  [16/02/09]


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