|A Breath of Fresh Air - By George L. Petrie — September 2001|
|Classification societies take a stand against pollution.|
The fundamental objective of vessel classification is to promote safety. Since their inception, classification societies have set the standards for design, construction, maintenance, and operation in an effort to ensure that vessels provide an acceptable level of safety for the people and goods they carry. To a degree owners may reap an economic benefit from having their vessel built to class due to, among other things, more favorable insurance ratings and lower premiums. And while classification is generally a requirement for vessels in commercial service, many private yacht owners also opt for it for the assurance of quality and safety that classification provides.
Recognizing that environmental protection is an important aspect of vessel safety, classification societies have recently broadened the scope of their efforts by offering a special class notation to vessels that comply with stringent requirements for environmentally safe design, construction, and operation. As of March of this year, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has offered a class notation known as Environmental Safety (ES) to any ABS-classed vessel that meets its environmental guidelines. And since July 2000 the British classification society Lloyd's Register (LR) has offered the class notation Environmental Protection (EP) to vessels classed by any recognized classification society if the vessel meets LR's environmental guidelines.
Though the guidelines set forth by LR and ABS are slightly different, both embrace the full spectrum of international conventions that relate to marine environmental quality, such as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/79), along with relevant International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards. For many commercial ships, compliance with most of these conventions is mandatory, whereas private yachts are statutorily exempt from many of the requirements. However, to obtain the EP or ES designation, a yacht (or ship) must demonstrate compliance even with certain standards that have not yet been ratified by the international community. And for any vessel (ship or yacht), application for the EP or ES designation is entirely voluntary.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.