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MODULE 3A: Survey Functions



3A-001 Marine surveys cover a very wide spectrum of maritime activity. In the case of cargo surveys, they will often be carried out on goods that have been carried in aircraft as well, as they are usually insured under marine policies. . No surveyor can possibly be competent in all fields of marine surveys and some specialization is therefore essential. This specialization is probably directed in the first instance by the surveyor’s primary discipline, be it that of engineer, naval architect, master mariner, or some other basic fundamental knowledge and skill.

3A-002 The range of specialist skills required for many surveys means that although perhaps the most clearly marked division of marine surveys is between those performed by engineers and mariners, some cargo surveyors come from very diverse backgrounds. The range of commodities and manufactured goods carried in ships and aircraft, and the diversity of ship types now plying the world’s oceans ensures that there is a need for surveyors with some very specialized skills. In London and New York, for example, some cargo surveyors cover only a small range of surveys but they are unquestionably experts in those that they do carry out.

3A-003 The more specialized surveyors are naturally to be found in parts of the world where shipping, trade activity, and industry are most intense, but in the less

developed or remote countries the surveyor has to be much more of a generalist. In some cases there may be experts in some required field who can be called upon by these general surveyors to provide the specialist skills required and, in these cases, the surveyor’s role will be largely that of a coordinator.

3A-004 As yet there is no internationally accepted qualification for marine surveyors or even an umbrella body charged with vetting their activities, although some countries now have surveyors’ organizations that go some way towards meeting this need. One of the principal reasons for the International Institute of Marine Surveyors being formed was to improve the coordination of the work of marine surveyors at both a national and an international level, an objective with which it is already achieving some success. Concern over the lack of recognized qualifications for marine surveyors prompted the institute to become involved with the provision of this course of study for a diploma in marine surveying. It will undoubtedly raise the overall level of competence and provide a standard that can be expected to add to the confidence with which principals employ surveyors.

Who is a Surveyor

3A-005 If we refer to the Concise Oxford Dictionary we will find:

(a) A surveyor is defined as:

(i) official inspector, person professionally engaged in surveying.

(b) Survey is defined as:

(i) let the eyes pass over, take a general view of form, the general idea of arrangement, and chief features of: examine the condition of, collect by measurement, etc. All facts needed for determining the boundaries, size, position, shape, color, etc;

(ii) general view, casting of eye or mind over something; inspection of the condition, amount, etc of something, account given as a ·result of this.

(c) Marine is defined as:

(i) of, found in, produced by, the sea: of shipping and naval matters.

3A-006 In referring to the Marine Encyclopedic Dictionary we will find:

(a) A surveyor is defined as:

(i) a person employed by a shipping association or a private person to inspect cargoes, ships, etc. He or she may be a class surveyor who undertakes to inspect ships and issue the appropriate classification certificates. He may also be asked to inspect and report on a damaged ship or a ship for delivery or redelivery in a time charter party.

(b) Survey is defined as:

(i) to view and examine the condition of an object and determine the recommendation needed, if any, to update its standard according to the classification needed by the authorities or any authorized corporation;

(ii) the act of examining by an independent impartial group of persons on behalf of others. Surveys may be effected on request by insurance companies when insurance claims are submitted for damaged cargo or ships.

3A-007 Considering these various definitions we would define a marine surveyor as A person who uses his or her particular skill and expertise (based on established competence of ships, boats, cargoes, and the sea) to look at and report on the factual condition of any ship, cargo or thing appertaining to ships, cargoes, and their respective environment.

3A-008 In creating this definition care has been taken to avoid placing any particular category on the type of work a marine surveyor might undertake, e.g. cargo, engine, naval architecture, etc whilst remaining very specific about the observation and

recording of facts. This definition should clearly differentiate between a surveyor and a consultant.

3A-009 Mindful of the EU directive concerning the requirements for a consultant, we would define a consultant as A person who uses his or her particular skill and expertise (based on established competence of ships, boats, cargoes, and the sea) to give an opinion on the condition of any ship, cargo or thing appertaining to ships, cargoes, and their respective environment.

3A-010 The clearly stated difference between a surveyor and a consultant expressed in the EU directive does not apply in many parts of the world where there is no such clear line of demarcation. (Where reference is made later in this module to the surveyor’s opinions, these remarks should be construed as applying to the surveyor’s role where it is not constrained by any directives such as the EU requiring the person concerned to have the status of “consultant”.)

3A-011 In the world at large it is probably true to say that a surveyor is, or maybe, expected to express an opinion on his observations where appropriate. EU surveyors instructed by principals based outside the EU would be wise to check their principal’s expectations in this respect.

Who instructs Surveyors?

3A-012 The range of the marine surveyor’s potential principals is indeed wide but it is likely to be confined largely to shipowners, charterers, cargo receivers and shippers, underwriters (hull and cargo), and P&I clubs. Some surveyors deliberately restrict their principles to one class of operator; for example, many are retained only by shipowners and charterers and they do not accept instructions from underwriters, and vice versa. (While this segregation of principals was prevalent a few years ago it is much less so today and it is now quite likely that a surveyor will receive instructions from either party, but of course not both in any one particular case for fear of involving a conflict of interest.)

3A-013 Many surveyors will work for any party instructing them but they must always keep a wary eye open for conflicts of interest. However, in practice, there is still a tendency for surveyors or surveying companies to become best known for acting for one particular type of principal, i.e. as shipowners’ or underwriters’ surveyors, although those who act unselectively for any party seeking their services may be seen as being the most truly independent and impartial.

For whom does the surveyor act?

3A-014 As would be expected surveyors usually act quite specifically for the party instructing them and to protect their principal’s interests. Unless otherwise agreed their report is then confidential to that party alone.

3A-015 For any specific survey, surveyors generally become legally the agent of the party retaining their services. The agency function may be wide or, more commonly, very restricted, but it is nevertheless generally an agency role. However, there are occasions when surveyors may be required to act in an entirely impartial role; for example in a situation where two parties with opposing interests jointly engage the same surveyor to perform the survey with a single survey report. (Copies of the report are, in this case, then made available to both parties.) Occasionally surveyors may be the employees of one party but they are rarely then referred to as surveyors, being superintendents, managers, and the like performing a survey or inspection for their employers.

Surveyors’ Instructions

3A-016 Once clear instructions have been received surveyors must keep within their parameters and not extend beyond them without reference back to their principals. Failure to comply fully with instructions can have serious consequences, but so too can over-stepping them and perhaps thereby committing a principal to unwanted costs or liabilities. (In some cases too much can be said in a report where the surveyor covers more than was requested in the original instructions.)

3A-017 Where, for some good reason, a principal’s instructions cannot be exactly fulfilled the surveyor should take appropriate steps to advise the principal and, most importantly, ensure that the report (and the certificate where appropriate) includes the shortcomings of the survey. The report should also contain the reasons for them.

3A-018 If the survey is for, say, cleanliness of a hold, the shipper then has the option of accepting the limitations or ensuring that suitable steps are taken to enable the surveyor to carry out the instructions to the full. However, such a practice cannot be applied to some warranty surveys, as for example a towage approval survey. Here the instructions are for the surveyor to be fully satisfied that the towage risks are acceptable in all respects

3A-019 In a towage approval case any qualifications to the certificate indicate that the surveyor is not fully satisfied that these risks are acceptable and it is usually then too late for reference to principals. If there is uncertainty due to some limitation beyond the surveyor’s ability to have rectified, the towage approval certificate cannot be issued since the tow can be expected to commence as soon as the certificate and towage recommendations are issued.

3A-020 As a general rule survey reports should outline what has been done, and what has not been done (when there is a requirement for something to be done) and the reason why not, when it was done, with whom, and where. If applicable there should also be a statement as to how the information was gathered, under what conditions and what degree of reliance can be placed on it.

3A-021 Fundamentally the role of surveyors is to survey and report. They should not assume otherwise unless instructed otherwise and if any doubt exists they should always clarify their instructions in writing before commencing each new assignment.

3A-022 With surveys that follow damage or loss claimed under an insurance policy surveyors may be instructed to fulfill a wider role than usual and this may involve investigating the wider circumstances of the claim and/or adjusting the claim under the terms of the marine insurance policy. When this occurs the term marine loss adjuster, rather than surveyor, may be more applicable.

3A-023 In practice surveyors often receive very sketchy instructions and are left to figure out exactly what is required of them. Sometimes, where a surveyor has been retained regularly by a party, there is a mutual understanding of the requirement and consequently, there may be no need for specific instructions to be given each time. Where this is not the case surveyors should be wary of vague instructions and should seek more detailed ones although, in some cases, they may be able to rely upon accepted industry standards.

3A-024 In the absence of detailed instructions it may be acceptable for the surveyor to follow the “usual industry practice” but this can still leave some debate as to what is actually expected from the survey. Sometimes misunderstandings will occur and where instructions cross international borders complications can arise because of different practices in different countries. There is no substitute for clear written instructions at the outset.

Surveys “without prejudice”

3A-025 Many surveys are carried out in order to provide a basis for a settlement between two parties and it is important, from a legal perspective, that nothing a surveyor writes or says when attending upon the instructions of one of the parties is seen as committing that party in any way to any particular basis of settlement.

3A-026 Surveys need, therefore, to be carried out “without prejudice” to any settlement eventually concluded and this needs to be understood by those involved. The surveyor should always state to the parties at the outset that the survey is “without prejudice”, and it is usual to state this fact in the report too.

3A-027 It is quite usual to see reports on surveys which, at the stage of their writing have no association with any settlement, but which state in conclusion that they are prepared “without prejudice”. This has little meaning in these circumstances. If anything it means that the survey was carried out, and the report written, without prejudice to the liability of the instructing principal.

3A-028 In most common law countries a report prepared in anticipation of, or after the commencement of, litigation and for this dominant purpose will usually be “privileged”. This means that it is not “discoverable” in subsequent legal proceedings and is not required to be shown to the other side in the dispute. It is effectively confidential between the writer and the recipient. One commonly also sees a statement at the head of a survey report that it is “Privileged-for the advice of legal advisers only”. This statement has no legal standing, but when the survey is required in the circumstances outlined above the report can become privileged.

The statement on the report does nothing to make it so but the fact of the dispute has arisen in this situation does generally give it legal protection. Conversely, the absence of such a statement on the report does not prevent it from becoming privileged if the above test is satisfied.

3A-029 It is important that surveyors do not express unnecessary and uncalled-for opinions, especially those for which they are not well qualified, particularly in reports that are not privileged, (see also 2-007 to 2-011). Such action can be detrimental to the principal’s interests in subsequent litigation, and even where litigation does not follow the report may, for some reason, fall into other hands and the remarks prove detrimental to the principal’s satisfactory resolution of the matter. In particular repudiations of liability, whether under insurance policies, contracts of carriage, or simply in cases involving tort, often become more difficult where a surveyor has expressed an opinion on liability even where it may not be soundly based.

3A-030 There may be occasions when a surveyor considers that certain information, not specifically called for in the original instructions, is of importance and will be of significant value to the instructing principal. In this case, a telephone call passing on this information may be all that is required. If appropriate it may be conveyed in a separate confidential letter, always bearing in mind that there is a possibility of discovery in the event of the matter going to court. The information should not appear in the report unless specifically requested to appear there.

3A-031 Following on from the previous paragraph it sometimes occurs that an “aside” letter which is quite separate from the report is desirable. To protect the surveyor’s interests, the principals should instruct their solicitor to expect a letter from the surveyor. Sending an aside letter through the principal’s solicitors ensures that it is legally privileged.

The Surveyor’s equipment and tools

3A-032 Although correctly stated by many surveyors that “strong legs, good eyes, and a reliable mode of transport” are the basic essentials for any marine surveyor, there are some basic tools that are required to be able to function as a surveyor. The right tools and equipment will also help to appease the commercial pressures, rules, and regulations that affect all surveyors in the course of earning their daily bread.

Personal Protective Equipment

3A-033 The following protective clothing and equipment are to be worn as applicable during surveys:

  1. Working clothes: working clothes should be of a low flammability type and easily visible.
  2. Head protection: hard hats (metal hats are not allowed) shall always be worn outside office buildings/unit accommodations.
  3. Hand and arm protection: Various types of gloves are available for use, and these should be used during all types of surveys. Rubber/Plastic gloves may be necessary when working in cargo holds.
  4. Food protection: Safety shoes or boots with steel toe caps and non-slip soles shall always be worn outside office buildings/unit accommodations. Special footwear may be necessary on slippery surfaces or in areas with chemical residues.
  5. Ear protection: Ear muffs or ear plugs are available and should be used when working in noisy areas. As a general rule, you need ear protection if you have to shout to make yourself understood by someone standing close to you.
  6. Eye protection: Goggles should always be used when there is a danger of solid particles or dust getting into the eyes. Protection against welding arc flashes and ultraviolet light should also be considered.
  7. Breathing protection: Dust masks shall be used for protection against the inhalation of harmful dust, paint spraying, and sandblasting. Gas masks and filters should be used by personnel working for short periods in an atmosphere polluted by gases or vapor. (Self-contained breathing apparatus: Surveyors shall not enter spaces where such equipment is necessary due to an unsafe atmosphere. Only those who are specially trained and familiar with such equipment should use it only in case of emergency).

Personal Survey Equipment

The following survey equipment is to be used as applicable during the surveys:

  1. Torches: Torches (Flashlights) approved by a competent authority for use in a flammable atmosphere shall be used in gas-dangerous areas. A high-intensity beam type is recommended for in-tank inspections. Torches are recolIlII1ended to be fitted with suitable straps so that both hands may be free.
  2. Hammer: In addition to its normal purposes the hammer is recommended for use during surveys inside units, tanks, etc. as it may be most useful for the purpose of giving distress signals in case of emergency.
  3. Oxygen analyzer
  4. Safety belts and lines:
  5. Radiation meter: For the purpose of detection of ionizing radiation (X or gamma rays) caused by radiographic examination, a radiation meter of the type which gives an audible alarm upon detection of radiation is recommended
  6. Marker pens, chalk, or whatever you have readily available to mark on the many different surfaces that you will encounter. Essential for compiling good photographic records.
  7. Digital camera
  8. Tape measures: of plastic or rubber case (no metal cases are permitted) with a minimum length of 7 meters
  9. Calculator: preferably one with a conversion facility.
  10. Laptop
  11. Mobile phone

3A-034 At this point, without going into equipment operational details, it is important that surveyors are fully aware of the myriad of equipment available which is now essential and expected to be used to conduct a complete and competent survey. Surveyors must be very aware of the capability of any of the equipment they use. Not only to use it to the manufacturer’s instructions but to be fully confident and competent in its use both by practice and theory. The ability to interpret the results and to report these results in a coherent manner is also paramount to the effective use of any equipment. This equipment if used wrongly or interpreted wrongly can have the complete opposite effect from that originally desired.

Types of Surveyors

3A-037 As mentioned earlier surveyors’ primary disciplines very largely determine their competence and suitability for certain types of surveys. Sections 2.1 – 2.4 cover the principal types of surveyors.

3A-038 Sections 2.5 – 2.7 cover the principal “umbrella” organizations for which they operate; that is, the organizations which employ surveyors and use their services either to provide a service to them or their own clients or to fulfill statutory functions.

Nautical Surveyors

3A-039 The primary discipline which has traditionally provided professional expertise for nautical surveyors is that of a deck officer in the mercantile marine. To a lesser extent, the same may be said of naval officers, although their knowledge and experience in the requisite field will probably have been limited by the time necessarily devoted to specialization in naval warfare, and by their lack of commercial shipping experience.


3A-040 The traditional, but by no means mandatory, qualification for a nautical surveyor is a master’s certificate although, in some cases, others with a sound knowledge of the subjects in the syllabus for senior deck officer’s qualifications may have the necessary skills provided they have had adequate experience too. The subjects which comprise the majority of nautical surveys require experience with navigation, seamanship, ship handling, fire and lifesaving equipment, weather and sea conditions, the carriage of cargo, and the environment.

3A-041 Nautical surveys often extend beyond the purely physical examination of ships and cargoes and involve a study of the wider aspects of ship operations.

Engineer and Ship Surveyors

3A-042 A primary discipline as an engineer has traditionally been the first requirement for this type of surveyor who is concerned largely with the structure of ships and their machinery. The background experience, as with most nautical surveyors, has also been principally that of the mercantile marine, and usually, but not always, these surveyors hold a certificate of competency as chief engineers. Ex-naval engineer officers are sometimes to be found amongst their ranks.

3A-043 In recent years, partly as a result of the reduction in the fleets of the traditional seafaring nations, there has been a need to turn more to university graduates and the larger classification societies now carry out significant training within their organizations to make up for the lack of practical seagoing experience.

3A-044 As will be clear later there are many more ship and engineer surveyors than nautical surveyors engaged in survey work by government departments and classification societies.

Naval Architect Surveyors

3A-045 This class of surveyors has usually gained the necessary qualifications and experience ashore, first in university and later in a ship design office or in a shipyard.

3A-046 To some extent their surveys are less concerned with “nuts and bolts· and more concerned with design and performance. They generally approve plans before a ship is constructed and this will involve an understanding of the strength of materials, stability, ship construction, and design. They are therefore likely to be involved as surveyors during the construction of a ship but may be involved later too, particularly where major repairs or modifications are involved.

3A-047 Some confusion may be created because these surveyors, usually with a naval architectural background, are sometimes grouped under the heading “ship surveyors”.

Other Specialist Surveyors

3A-048 Modern ships are built with substantial electrical and electronic equipment and their survey therefore also requires specialists in these areas. In the principal shipbuilding and repair countries, such surveyors are often likely to be employees of government agencies and classification societies but elsewhere they may be more widely employed in industry and only involved as surveyors when there is a specific need for their services.

3A-049 Cargo surveys, although primarily the role of nautical surveyors, will frequently need a surveyor with knowledge of specialist equipment, and, as with ships, this will often involve complex electronics. For this reason regions of the world where the sheer volume of specialist cargoes warrants it there is to be found a range of cargo surveyors who are specialists in a particular field.

3A-050 To the ranks of the more traditional “other specialist” surveyors must now be added those who carry out quality assurance and ship management audits. The growth in ISO 9000 accreditation, and now International Safety Management Code compliance, has required suitably qualified and experienced persons to be trained to carry out these audits which must be considered under the general heading of “marine surveys”.

Government Surveyors

3A-051 When a country becomes a signatory to an international maritime convention it is obliged to enact its own national legislation to bring its provisions into effect. Amongst other things, it undertakes that its ships will be built and operated to the requisite standard.

3A-052 In order to ensure compliance with such regulations it is necessary to use surveyors to carry out regular surveys. Some of these surveyors will be government employees and they will be of any of the disciplines discussed in 1-4 above.

3A-053 Tasks traditionally carried out by government surveyors are, more and more, being carried out by class surveyors in order to reduce government expenditure, with government surveyors now being largely used to audit the work of class surveyors and others.

Classification Surveyors

3A-054 Initially for insurance purposes, shipowners usually choose to have their ships and craft built to independently approved designs and under independent survey to ensure compliance with those designs and also with good shipbuilding practice. From their underwriters’ point of view, this should ensure that they are only insuring sound vessels that purport to be what their owners say they are.

3A-055 To facilitate this a number of classification societies have grown up in the world’s principal maritime nations. The oldest, and still just the largest in terms of tonnage classed, is Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (LR) based in London.

3A-057 The principal and long respected societies formed the International Association of Classification Societies (lACS) with a secretariat in London a few years ago for the purpose of introducing some uniformity into their construction rules and to work more closely to maintain and improve standards of construction and survey. This became necessary as other societies were being formed in some countries to satisfy a desire for national pride rather than a commitment to standards.

3A-058 Although lACS is concerned with all types of vessels in class it has been the frequent losses of bulk carriers, with appalling loss of life, which has prompted much of the association’s activity. As a result, useful research has been undertaken and many improvements achieved.

3A-058.1 IACS consists of 12 member societies, details of which are listed below. Chairmanship of IACS is on a rotational basis with each member of society taking a turn.

3A-059 Classification society surveyors tend to come largely from the engineering and naval architecture disciplines though some have a nautical surveyor background. This is to be expected as class is principally concerned with design, structure, and condition rather than with equipment and operation although recent years have seen safety and environmental issues come to the fore, much of it calling for attention by nautical surveyors.

3A-060 Not all classification society surveyors are full-time employees of those societies (known as “exclusive surveyors”) and some are consultant surveyors retained on an “as required” basis. The involvement of these extra surveyors is carefully regulated and may arise when a survey is required at a port where there is no exclusive surveyor. In this case, a non-exclusive/acting surveyor (privately employed) may be instructed.

Independent or Specialist Surveyors (Individuals and Companies)

3A-061 The majority of the world’s surveyors fall into the category of independent or specialist surveyors; that is to say, they are not government or classification society employed.

  • Individuals

3A-062 Many surveyors work on their own, without support other than clerical, and do not belong to any commercial organization. They are frequently sole operators and their principals are often involved in only a restricted geographical region. Many are cargo surveyors, but other fields have attracted them too. Some who have made successful careers in surveying as the sole operators do not aspire to build larger businesses and they often prefer not to lose some of their identity by becoming members of a larger surveying company.

3A-063 Private surveyors possessing a high level of expertise and competence are often referred to as consultant (or consulting) surveyors and may be instructed from time to time by the larger survey organizations, including the Salvage Association (often known simply as the “SA”), when a survey is required at a place remote from the offices of these large organizations

  • Companies

3A-064 There are a number of international surveying companies. There are also many national ones in the larger countries which have strong import and export trades or shipbuilding industries. These range from those employing a substantial number of surveyors to the smaller ones with only two or three. Generally, the larger companies will offer a wide range of surveying services and will have surveyors on their staff who are able to cover a variety of survey work.

3A-065 One worldwide organization which is of a very different kind is the Salvage Association (SA), based in London. It is probably best known for its ship salvage expertise which is largely called upon by underwriters, but its skills extend into various kinds of hull and cargo surveying. Most of its surveyors, referred to as “staff surveyors·, are engineer surveyors, but there is a small number of master mariners on its staff as nautical surveyors and they too become involved in the salvage advisory role.

3A-066 Although many of its instructions arise from Lloyd’s underwriters’ requests to Lloyd’s brokers acting on behalf of their clients to “instruct the SA”, the association will act for any party instructing it provided there is no conflict of interest3A-067 In ports where it does not have its own offices the SA will often instruct Lloyd’s Agents to appoint local engineer surveyors on its behalf when advised by underwriters of machinery damage.

3A-067 In ports where it does not have its own offices the SA will often instruct Lloyd’s Agents to appoint local engineer surveyors on its behalf when advised by underwriters of machinery damage.

3A-068 If the SA requires a consultant surveyor for specialized surveys, such as towage approvals, it may occasionally appoint an individual in a large survey firm or a sole operator. It is the practice of the SA to appoint surveyors by name rather than as firms since past experience may have established a relationship of confidence with one surveyor in a firm but perhaps not with others. SA appointments are personal and not corporate.


Introduction – Classification Societies today

3A-069 The purpose of a Classification Society is to provide classification and statutory services and assistance to the maritime industry and regulatory bodies as regards maritime safety and pollution prevention, based on the accumulation of maritime knowledge and technology.

3A-070 The objective of ship classification is to verify the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull and its appendages, and the reliability and function of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation, and those other features and auxiliary systems which have been built into the ship in order to maintain essential services on board. Classification Societies aim to achieve this objective through the development and application of their own Rules and by verifying compliance with international and/or national statutory regulations on behalf of flag Administrations.

3A-071 The vast majority of commercial ships are built to and surveyed for compliance with the standards laid down by Classification Societies. These standards are issued by the Society as published Rules

3A-072 A vessel that has been designed and built to the appropriate Rules of a Society may apply for a certificate of classification from that Society.

3A-073 However, such a certificate does not imply, and should not be construed as, a warranty of safety, fitness for purpose, or seaworthiness of the ship. It is an attestation only that the vessel is in compliance with the Rules that have been developed and published by the Society issuing the classification certificate. Further, Classification Societies are not guarantors of the safety of life or property at sea or the seaworthiness of a vessel because the Classification Society has no control over how a vessel is manned, operated, and maintained during the periodical surveys that it conducts.

3A-074 Classification is one element within the maritime safety regime. Others with a responsibility for or interest in promoting maritime safety include shipowners, shipbuilders, flag State administrations, port State control authorities, underwriters, shipping financiers, charterers, and, of course, seafarers.

3A-075 The role of classification and Classification Societies has been recognized in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, (SOLAS) and in the 1988 Protocol to the International Convention on Load Lines. This statutory role is addressed later in this note.

3A-076 As an independent, self-regulating, externally audited, body, a Classification Society has no commercial interests related to shipping design, shipbuilding, ship ownership, ship operation, ship management, ship maintenance or repairs, insurance, or chartering. In establishing its Rules, each Classification Society may draw upon the advice and review of members of the industry and academia who are considered to have relevant knowledge or experience.

3A-077 Classification Rules are developed to establish standards for the structural strength of the ship’s hull and its appendages, and the suitability of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation, and those other features and auxiliary systems which have been built into the ship to assist in its operation. Classification Rules are not intended as a design code and in fact, cannot be used as such.

3A-078 A vessel built in accordance with the applicable Rules of an IACS Member Society may be assigned a class designation by the Society on satisfactory completion of the relevant surveys. For ships in service, the Society carries out surveys to verify that the ship remains in compliance with those Rules. Should any defects that may affect class become apparent, or damages be sustained between the relevant surveys, the owner is required to inform the Society concerned without delay.

3A-079 The classification of a vessel is based on the understanding that the vessel is loaded, operated, and maintained in a proper manner by the competent and qualified crew or operating personnel.

3A-080 A vessel may be maintained in class provided that, in the opinion of the Society concerned, it remains in compliance with the relevant Rules, as ascertained by a periodic or non-periodic survey.

3A-081 In developing its Rules, a Classification Society typically relies on empirical experience gained from class a wide variety of ship types over many years, coupled with appropriate research that contributes towards the on-going development of relevant, advanced technical requirements.  Classification Societies are often simply referred to as ‘Class Societies’ or just ‘Class’ (‘class’).

Why Classification?

3A-082 In the second half of the 18th century, marine insurers, based at Lloyd’s coffee house in London, developed a system for the independent technical assessment of the ships presented to them for insurance cover. In 1760 a Committee was formed for this purpose, the earliest existing result of their initiative being Lloyd’s Register Book for the years 1764-65-66.

3A-083 At that time, an attempt was made to ‘classify’ the condition of each ship on an annual basis. The condition of the hull was classified A, E, I, O, or U, according to the excellence of its construction and its adjudged continuing soundness (or otherwise). Equipment was G, M, or B: simply, good, middling, or bad. In time, G, M, and B were replaced by 1, 2, or 3, which is the origin of the well-known expression ‘A1’, meaning ‘first or highest class.

3A-084 The concept of classification slowly spread to other countries and insurance markets. Bureau Veritas (BV) was founded in Antwerp in 1828, moving to Paris in 1832. ‘Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping was reconstituted as a self-standing ‘Classification Society’ in 1834; Rules for construction and survey were published the same year.

3A-085 RINA (previously Registro Italiano Navale) dates from 1861; the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) traces its origins back to 1862. The adoption of common Rules for ship construction by Norwegian insurance societies in the late 1850s led to the establishment of Det Norske Veritas (DNV) in 1864. Germanischer Lloyd (GL) was formed in 1867 and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) in 1899. The Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) was an early offshoot of the River Register of 1913. More recent foundations have been the Polish Register of Shipping (PRS) in 1936; Yugoslav Register of Shipping (now the Croatian Register of Shipping (CRS)), 1949; China Classification Society (CCS), 1956; Korean Register of Shipping (KR), 1960; and Indian Register of Shipping (IRS), 1975.

3A-086 As the classification profession evolved, the practice of assigning different classifications has been superseded, with some exceptions. Today a vessel either meets the relevant Class Society’s Rules or does not. As a consequence, it is either ‘in’ or ‘out’ of ‘class’. However, each of the Classification Societies has developed a series of notations that may be granted to a vessel to indicate that it is in compliance with some additional voluntary criteria that may be either specific to that vessel type or that are in excess of the standard classification requirements.

The International Association of Classification Societies – IACS

3A-087 IACS can trace its origins back to the International Load Line Convention of 1930 and its recommendations. The Convention recommended collaboration between Classification Societies to secure “as much uniformity as possible in the application of the standards of strength upon which freeboard is based…”.

3A-088 Following the Convention, RINA hosted the first conference of major Societies in 1939 – also attended by ABS, BV, DNV, GL, LR, and NK – which agreed on further cooperation between the Societies.

3A-089 A second major Class Society conference, held in 1955, led to the creation of Working Parties on specific topics and, in 1968, to the formation of IACS by seven leading Societies. The value of their combined level of technical knowledge and experience was quickly recognized. In 1969, IACS was given consultative status with the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It remains the only non-governmental organization with Observer status which is able to develop and apply Rules.

3A-090 Compliance with the IACS Quality System Certification Scheme (QSCS) is mandatory for IACS Membership. Full details of the scheme are available on the IACS website. IACS is governed by a Council, with each Member represented by a senior management figure

3A-101 The Association maintains a Secretariat in London and a QSCS Operations Centre in Southampton, UK.

3A-102 The IACS Charter, Procedures, details of the work program, technical Resolutions, and other publications are all available on the IACS website.


3A-103 Implementing the published Rules, the classification process consists of:

  • A technical review of the design plans and related documents for a new vessel to verify compliance with the applicable Rules;
  • Attendance at the construction of the vessel in the shipyard by a Classification Society surveyor(s) to verify that the vessel is constructed in accordance with the approved design plans and classification Rules;
  • Attendance by a Classification Society surveyor(s) at the relevant production facilities that provide key components such as the steel, engine, generators, and castings to verify that the component conforms to the applicable Rule requirements;
  • Attendance by a Classification Society surveyor(s) at the sea trials and other trials relating to the vessel and its equipment prior to delivery to verify conformance with the applicable Rule requirements;
  • Upon satisfactory completion of the above, the builder’s/shipowner’s request for the issuance of a class certificate will be considered by the relevant Classification Society and, if deemed satisfactory, the assignment of class may be approved and a certificate of classification issued;
  • Once in service, the owner must submit the vessel to a clearly specified program of periodical class surveys, carried out onboard the vessel, to verify that the ship continues to meet the relevant Rule requirements for continuation of class.

3A-104 Class Rules do not cover every piece of structure or item of equipment on board a vessel, nor do they cover operational elements. Activities that generally fall outside the scope of classification include such items as design and manufacturing processes; choice of type and power of machinery and certain equipment (e.g. winches); number and qualification of the crew or operating personnel; form and cargo carrying capacity of the ship and maneuvering performance; hull vibrations; spare parts; life-saving appliances and maintenance equipment. These matters may however be given consideration for classification according to the type of ship or class notation(s) assigned.

3A-105 It should be emphasized that it is the shipowner who has the overall responsibility for the safety and integrity of a vessel, including the manner in which it is operated and maintained. The effectiveness of classification depends upon the shipbuilder, during construction, and the shipowner, once the vessel enters service, cooperating with the Class Society in an open and transparent manner on all issues which may affect its class status. For the shipowner, this particular requires acting in good faith by disclosing to the Class Society any damage or deterioration that may affect the vessel’s classification status. If there is the least question, the owner should notify the class and schedule a survey to determine if the vessel is in compliance with the relevant class standard.

3A-106 A Class surveyor may only go on board a vessel once in a twelve-month period. At that time it is neither possible nor expected that the surveyor scrutinizes the entire structure of the vessel or its machinery. The survey involves a sampling, for which guidelines exist based upon empirical experience and the age of the vessel which may indicate those parts of the vessel or its machinery that may be subject to corrosion, or are exposed to the highest incidence of stress, or maybe likely to exhibit signs of fatigue or damage.

Assignment, maintenance, suspension, and withdrawal of the class

3A-107 Class is assigned to a vessel upon the completion of the satisfactory review of the design and surveys during construction undertaken in order to verify compliance with the Rules of the Society. For existing vessels, specific procedures apply when they are being transferred from one Class Society to another.

3A-108 Ships are subject to a through-life survey regime if they are to be retained in class. These surveys include the class renewal (also called “special survey”), intermediate survey, annual survey, and bottom/docking surveys of the hull. They also include tail shaft surveys, boiler surveys, machinery surveys, and, where applicable, surveys of items associated with the maintenance of additional class notations (see Appendix 1).

3A-109 The surveys are to be carried out in accordance with the relevant class requirements to confirm that the condition of the hull, machinery, equipment, and appliances is in compliance with the applicable Rules.

3A-110 It is the owner’s responsibility to properly maintain the ship in the period between surveys. It is the duty of the owner, or its representative, to inform the Society of any events or circumstances that may affect the continued conformance of the ship with the Society’s Rules.

3A-111 Where the conditions for the maintenance of class are not complied with, the class may be suspended, withdrawn, or revised to a different notation, as deemed appropriate by the Society when it becomes aware of the condition.

Classification Surveys

3A-112 A classification survey is a visual examination that normally consists of:

  • an overall examination of the items identified in the Rules for the survey;
  • detailed checks of selected parts, on a sampling basis;
  • witnessing tests, measurements, and trials where applicable.

3A-113 When a surveyor identifies corrosion, structural defects, or damage to the hull, machinery, and/or piece of equipment that, based on the Society’s Rules and in the opinion of the surveyor, affects the ship’s class, remedial measures and/or appropriate recommendations conditions of class are specified in order to retain class.

3A-114 ‘Recommendation’ and ‘condition of class’ are different terms used by IACS Societies for the same thing i.e. requirements to the effect that specific measures, repairs, requests for surveys, etc., are to be carried out within a specified time limit in order to retain class.

3A-115 Each classed vessel is subject to a specified program of periodic surveys after delivery. These are based on a five-year cycle and consist of annual surveys, an intermediate survey, and a class renewal/special survey (held every 5 years). The rigor of each specified survey increases with the age of the vessel.

3A-116 The class renewal surveys/special surveys include extensive in-water and, in most cases, out-of-water examinations to verify that the structure, main and essential auxiliary machinery, systems, and equipment of the ship remain in a condition that satisfies the relevant Rules. The examination of the hull is supplemented, when specified, by ultrasonic thickness measurements and the witnessing of tests as specified in the Rules and as deemed necessary by the attending surveyor. The survey is intended to assess whether the structural integrity remains in conformance with the standards contained in the relevant Rules and to identify areas that exhibit substantial corrosion, significant deformation, fractures, damages, or other structural deterioration.

3A-117 Depending upon the age, size, type, and condition of the vessel, the renewal/special survey may take several weeks to complete.

3A-118 The intermediate survey (held approximately halfway between special surveys) includes examinations and checks as specified in the Rules to determine whether the ship remains in a general condition that satisfies the Rule requirements. According to the type and age of the ship, drydocking may be required and the examinations of the hull may be supplemented by ultrasonic thickness measurements as specified in the Rules and where deemed necessary by the attending surveyor.

3A-119 At the time of annual surveys, the ship is generally examined. The survey includes an external general inspection of the hull, equipment, and machinery of the ship and some witnessing of tests, so far as is necessary and practical in order to determine whether the ship remains in a general condition that satisfies the Rule requirements. Older ships of certain types may also be subject to a general examination of some specified internal areas of the hull. Depending upon the age, size, type, and condition of the vessel, an annual survey may take from several hours to a few days to complete.

Development of Rules, Regulations, and Guidance

Historical development

3A-120 Classification Rules have been developed over many years by each Society through extensive research and development and service experience. In addition, certain Unified Requirements have been agreed upon by IACS Members and transposed into the individual Members’ Rules.

3A-121 As outlined later, ‘statutory’ requirements are developed at IMO and where necessary, Unified Interpretations of them are adopted by IACS.

Future development

3A-122 Rules and Regulations are subject to constant refinement based upon additional research or practical experience.

3A-123 Ultimately it is up to the international community, as expressed through their governmental representation at the IMO, to determine the acceptable level of risk associated with the conduct of marine transport. These standards may be prescriptive or goal-based. In the former case, the Class Societies may develop Unified Interpretations, under the aegis of IACS, which clarify the intent and application of the international standards. In the latter case of goal-based standards, the IMO may establish broad requirements and then leave it to the Classification Societies to develop the detailed Rules that will allow the industry to meet those targets. The current focus of the IMO is a new and transparent goal-based regulatory framework for hull structures of oil tankers and bulk carriers. This represents a significant change to the current complex system of largely prescriptive statutory international and national regulations, classification rules, and industry standards.

3A-124 The basic principle is to establish clear, demonstrable, and verifiable goals to the effect that a properly built, operated, and maintained ship should provide minimal risk to its cargo and crew and to the environment for a specified operational life. This goal-based approach aims at moving the regulatory framework from a culture of compliance, governed by prescriptive Rules, to a culture of benchmarking, backed by functional risk-based requirements. It is intended that those goals may be achieved by alternative designs that offer an equivalent level of safety while promoting new technology and greater innovation within the shipping industry.

3A-125 Within the framework set at the IMO, it is the role of IACS Members to develop the specific Rule criteria to support the goals. It is intended that these Rules will be “common” to all IACS Societies.

3A-126 Existing Common Rules for hull structures of oil tankers and bulk carriers were adopted in December 2005 for implementation on 1 April 2006. This was an ambitious project and one of the most important single steps in the development of maritime Rules that IACS has been involved with.

IACS Resolutions


3A-127 In addition to the Common Rules projects, IACS Resolutions on technical or procedural matters may be developed, generally through specialist Working Groups overseen by the General Policy Group (GPG).

The categories of Resolution are listed below and may be found on the IACS website.

Unified Requirements

3A-128 As defined in Annex 4 of the IACS Charter, Unified Requirements (UR) are minimum technical requirements adopted by the IACS Members which, subject to ratification by the governing body of each Member, are to be incorporated into their Rules and practices. URs set forth minimum requirements; each IACS Member remains free to adopt more stringent requirements.

3A-129 URs are relevant to matters directly connected to or covered by specific Rule requirements and practices of Classification Societies and the general philosophy on which the Rules and practices of Classification Societies are established.

3A-130 The existence of a UR does not oblige a Member Society to issue respective Rules if it chooses not to have Ruled for the type of ship or maritime structure concerned.

3A-131 Reservations: Since each Member has its own Governing Body, a situation may arise where certain aspects not foreseen during the draft UR development process, or external review, are found unsuitable to the Governing Body of a Member Society. In such a case, the Society is obliged to notify the others of the situation by declaring a reservation to all or part of the UR and provide technical reasons for the reservation. The status of each UR is posted on the IACS website.

Common Rules

3A-132 Common Rules are IACS URs covering broad areas of classification requirements which, once adopted by the IACS Council, shall be applied by all Members without the possibility of reservations.

3A-133 As defined in Annex 4 of the IACS Charter, IACS Common Structural Rules (CSR) are a comprehensive set of minimum requirements for the classification of the hull structures of bulk carriers and double-hull oil tankers, in relation to which the contract for construction was signed on or after 1 April 2006.

Unified Interpretations

3A-134 As defined in Annex 4 of the IACS Charter, Unified Interpretations (UIs) are Resolutions on matters arising from implementing the requirements of IMO instruments. They provide uniform interpretations of Convention Regulations or IMO Resolutions on those matters which in the Convention are left to the satisfaction of the flag Administration or where more precise wording is found to be necessary.

UIs are circulated to the flag Administrations concerned, as appropriate, and submitted to IMO for information and any follow-up action.

UIs shall be applied by Member Societies to ships whose flag Administration has not issued definite instructions on the interpretation of the Regulations concerned.

Procedural Requirements

3A-135 As defined in Annex 4 of the IACS Charter, IACS Procedural Requirements (PRs) are Resolutions on technical matters of procedure.

Requirements under this category are to be followed by Members and, for parts of some PRs, by the IACS Permanent Secretariat.

PRs adopted shall be incorporated in the practices and procedures of the Members within the periods agreed.

Other Publications

3A-136 IACS also produces Guidelines and Recommendations, not necessarily on matters of class, but on issues that IACS Members consider advice or guidance may be beneficial to the industry.


Qualities and qualifications of Surveyors

3A-137 A memorandum of 1834 has not been bettered:

The utmost care and discrimination have been exercised by the Committee in the selection of men of talent, integrity, and firmness as Surveyors, on whom the practical efficacy of the system and the contemplated advantages must so materially depend; the Committee has in their judgment appointed those persons only…who appeared to them to be most competent to discharge the important duties of their situations with fidelity and ability and to ensure strict and impartial justice to all parties whose property shall come under their supervision.

3A-138 The training, qualification, and monitoring of surveyors and auditors are now governed by the IMO resolution MSC.349(92) and MEPC.237(65) best known “RO Code” in Appendix 2.

Statutory Certification of Ships


3A-139 The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is an umbrella convention concerned with many aspects of the sea and its uses, including the granting of registration of a ship by a State. Once a ship is registered, the flag State has certain duties laid out in UNCLOS. In particular, under Article 94, the flag State must effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical, and social matters over ships flying its flag” and take “such measures for ships flying its flag as are necessary to ensure safety at sea.

Under the auspices of the IMO, International Conventions have been agreed which set out uniform requirements in order to facilitate the acceptance of a ship registered in one country in the waters and ports of another and in the general furtherance of safety at sea and the protection of the environment. These requirements are commonly referred to as ‘statutory’ requirements. Broadly, they cover four distinct areas:

  • Aspects of the ship’s design and its structural integrity – load line and stability in intact and damaged condition, essential propulsion, steering equipment, etc.;
  • Pollution control with regard to normal ship operation;
  • Accident prevention, including navigational aids and pollution and fire prevention;
  • The situation after an accident (fire, flooding) includes containment and escape.

3A-140 Some or all of these may also be covered in a particular Class Society’s Rules.

3A-141 SOLAS Ch II-1, Reg 3-1 states that, in addition to the requirements of the other (SOLAS) regulations, ships shall be designed, constructed, and maintained in compliance with the structural, mechanical, and electrical requirements of a Classification Society which is recognized by the Administration in accordance with the provisions of regulation XI/1 (see E2 below), or with applicable national standards of the Administration which provide an equivalent level of safety

3A-142 Where the result of the classification survey is taken as evidence of compliance with the corresponding statutory requirement, e.g. load line or safety

construction (hull, machinery, boilers, electrical equipment, etc.), this survey is de facto given the status of a statutory survey on behalf of the flag Administration, if the Society is acting as its recognized organization in this respect.

3A-143 When a ship is suspended or withdrawn from class, the IACS Member concerned notifies the relevant flag Administration and publishes the information e.g. on its website and on Equasis. As a consequence, the flag Administration generally invalidates the statutory certificates concerning construction and equipment.

Recognized Organizations

3A-144 SOLAS and the other International Conventions permit the flag Administration to delegate the inspection and survey of ships to a Recognised Organization (RO). This is in recognition of the fact that many flag Administrations do not have adequate technical experience, manpower, or global coverage to undertake all the necessary statutory inspections and surveys using their own staff. The degree to which a flag State may choose to delegate authority to a RO (Class Society) is for each flag State to decide, with the authority granted being clearly identified in the relevant memoranda of understanding agreed between the Class Society and the Administration. In most cases, the RO is empowered to require repairs or other corrective action to a ship and to withdraw or invalidate the relevant certificate if the necessary action is not taken (e.g. SOLAS Chapter I, Reg 6).

IMO Resolution A.739(18) lays down mandatory minimum requirements for us.

3A-145 Fundamentally it requires the organization to demonstrate its technical competence and to be governed by the principles of ethical behavior. The RO is to be subject to the certification of its quality system by an independent body of auditors accepted by the Administration.

A.739(18), together with Resolution A.789(19), which presents specifications on the survey and certification functions of ROs, provides the criteria and framework by which a flag must be satisfied is met by their ROs. IACS Members have been found to meet Resolutions A.739(18) and A.789(19) by all of the Administrations (approximately 100) that are Parties to SOLAS.

3A-146 The RO is responsible and accountable to the flag Administration for the work that it carries out on its behalf. The principles of the inspection and survey work are to a very large extent the same as in respect of classification surveys, that is, the verification by the RO that a ship is in compliance with applicable.

requirements at the time of the survey or inspection. The scopes of these inspections and surveys are laid down by the relevant national laws based on International Conventions to which the Government is a signatory, together with additional instructions that may be issued by the flag Administration.

3A-147 IACS Members generally do not undertake ‘statutory’ work on ships that they do not themselves class. The significant exceptions to this policy are International Safety Management (ISM) Code and International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code certification where it may be efficient for a Company to implement a common Safety Management System (SMS) or Ship Security Plan (SSP) on a fleet basis as that fleet may be classed by more than one Society. However, systems are in place for the classing Society to inform the owner, the ISM certifying Society, and/or the flag Administration in cases where there is reason to doubt the continuing effectiveness of the SMS or SSP.

Language of Classification and Surveys

Classification Societies – Definition

3A-148 A Classification Society is an organization that:

  1. publishes its own classification Rules (including technical requirements) in relation to the design, construction, and survey of ships2, and has the capacity to (a) apply, (b) maintain, and (c) update those Rules and Regulations with its own resources on a regular basis;
  2. verifies compliance with these Rules during construction and periodically during a classed ship’s service life.
  3. publishes a register of classed ships;
  4. is not controlled by, and does not have interests in, ship-owners, shipbuilders, or others engaged commercially in the manufacture, equipping, repair, or operation of ships; and
  5. is authorized by a Flag Administration as defined in SOLAS Chapter XI-1, Regulation 1 and listed accordingly in the IMO database, Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).

Classification Notations

3A-148 Classification notations are indicative of the specific Rule requirements which have been met. Additional voluntary notations are offered by individual Societies and may be selected by an owner wishing to demonstrate that the vessel conforms to a particular standard that may be in excess of that required for classification. Depending on the Classification Society, the classification notations are assigned to the ship according to ship type, service, navigation, and/or other criteria which have been provided by the owner and/or builder, when requesting classification. Classification notations assigned to a ship are indicated on the certificate of classification as well as in the Register of Ships published by the Society. These notations can be generalized by the following types which may be used in combination:

  • main class symbol;
  • construction marks;
  • service notations with additional service features, as applicable;
  • navigation notations;
  • geographic notations;
  • additional class notations.

Class Symbol

3A-149 The main class symbol indicates the compliance of the ship with specific Rule requirements regarding its construction.

Construction mark

3A-150 The construction mark, when assigned, identifies the procedure under which the ship and its main equipment or arrangements have been surveyed for the initial assignment of the class.

Service Notations

3A-151 The service notations, when assigned, define the type and/or service of the ship which has been considered for its classification.

A ship may be assigned several different service notations. In such case, the specific Rule requirements applicable to each service notation will have been complied with.

Navigation and operating area notations

Navigation notations

3A-152 Some Classification Societies define limiting areas for navigation (e.g. coastal waters, and sheltered waters), and/or limiting environmental conditions for certain types of ships and marine structures.

The assignment of restricted navigation notations may include the reduction of scantlings or specific arrangements.

The assignment of a navigation notation by Classification Societies does not absolve the owner from compliance with any applicable international and/or national regulations established by the Administrations for ships operating in national waters, a specific area, or a navigation zone.

Operating or service area notations

3A-153 The operating area notation specifies the service area where the ship (e.g. dredgers, crane pontoons, port tugs) can operate as regards its assigned class.

Additional Class Notations

3A-154 Each of the Classification Societies have developed a series of notations that may be granted to a vessel to indicate that it is in compliance with some additional voluntary criteria that may be either specific to that vessel type or that are in excess of the standard classification requirements.

Assignment, Maintenance, Suspension, and Withdrawal of Class

Assignment of Class

3A-155 Class is assigned to a ship upon the completion of satisfactory surveys, held to verify that the vessel is in compliance with the relevant Rules of the Society. This assignment may be given in the following cases:

  • on completion of the new building, after satisfactory surveys have been performed;
  • on completion of a satisfactory survey of an existing ship carried out in accordance with the agreement developed by the IACS Member Societies for ships transferring class between Members; or
  • on completion of a satisfactory specific class survey of an existing ship not classed with an IACS Society, or not classed at all.

Maintenance of Class

3A-156 Classed ships are subject to surveys for maintenance of class. These surveys include the class renewal (also called “special survey”), intermediate, annual, and bottom/docking surveys (either a survey in dry dock or an in-water survey) of the hull, tail shaft survey, boiler survey, machinery surveys and surveys for the maintenance of additional class notations, where applicable. Such surveys are carried out at intervals and under the conditions given below.

The surveys are to be carried out in accordance with the relevant requirements in order to confirm that the condition of the hull, machinery, equipment, and appliances comply with the applicable Rules. It is the owner’s duty to ensure that the ship’s maintenance is kept at a satisfactory level in order to maintain the condition between surveys.

The extent of any survey depends upon the condition of the ship and its equipment. In addition to the minimum required extent of surveys specified in the Rules, should the surveyor have a doubt as to the maintenance or condition of the ship or its equipment, or be informed by the owner of any deficiency or damage which may affect class, further examination and testing may be conducted as considered necessary.

Suspension of Class

3A-157 Class may be suspended following a decision made by the Society when one or more of the following occurs:

  • when a ship is not operated in compliance with the Rule requirements;
  • when a ship proceeds to sea with less freeboard than that assigned;
  • when the owner fails to request a survey after having detected defects or damages affecting the class;
  • when repairs, alterations, or conversions affecting the class are carried out without requesting the attendance of a surveyor.

3A-158 In addition, class is automatically suspended:

  • when the class renewal/special survey has not been completed by its due date or within the time granted in special circumstances for the completion of the survey, unless the ship is under attendance by the Society’s surveyor(s) with a view to completion prior to resuming trading;
  • when the annual or intermediate surveys have not been completed by the end of the corresponding survey time windows.

3A-159 Suspension of class with respect to the above cases will remain in effect until such time as the due surveys and any other survey deemed appropriate by the Society have been completed.

In addition to the circumstances for which automatic suspension may apply, the class of a ship will be subject to suspension procedures following a decision of the Society:

  • when a recommendation/condition of the class is not dealt with within the time limit specified, unless it is postponed before the due date by agreement with the Society;
  • when one or more other surveys are not held by their due dates – or the dates stipulated by the Society also taking into account any extensions granted;
  • when, due to the nature of reported defects, the Society considers that a ship is not entitled to retain its class even on a temporary basis (pending necessary repairs or renewals, etc.);
  • in other circumstances where the owner fails to submit the ship to a survey in accordance with a special requirement.

3A-160 In all cases suspension will remain in effect until such time as matters are rectified and the class is reinstated or the class is withdrawn.

3A-161 Depending on the Society’s procedures, the suspensions of classes that are not automatic may take effect either when they are decided by the Society or from the date when the conditions for suspension occurred. However once the conditions for class suspension/withdrawal are met and before any decision by the Society can be taken, either because the Society is not aware of the circumstances (surveys dates, etc. are recorded but not systematically monitored) or because the decision is not yet taken, maintenance of class cannot generally be confirmed by the Society during this period.

Withdrawal of Class

3A-162 The Society will withdraw the class of a ship when:

  • requested by the owner;
  • the class has been suspended for more than six months;
  • the ship is reported as a constructive total loss and the owner does not advise his intention to repair the ship for reinstatement of class;
  • the ship is reported lost;
  • the ship will not trade further as declared by its owner.

3A-163 Withdrawal of class takes effect from the date on which the circumstances causing such withdrawal occurs or when it is decided.

Notification of suspension or withdrawal

3A-164 Notification of suspension or withdrawal

When class is suspended or withdrawn, Society will at the same time:

  • inform the owner, flag Administration, and underwriters (the latter at their request);
  • publish the information on its website and convey the information to appropriate databases (Equasis, etc.).

Surveys – Overview of Requirements and Certification

Definition and procedures related to classification surveys

Period of Certificate of Class

3A-165 The period of the certificate of the class starts either from the date of initial classification or from the credited date of the last class renewal/special survey, and expires at the due date assigned for the next class renewal/special survey.

The due date is the end of the time window for that survey.

Anniversary Date

3A-166 The anniversary date is the day and the month given in the certificate of class which corresponds to the expiry date of the certificate.

Survey time window

3A-167 The survey time window is the fixed period during which the annual and intermediate surveys are to be carried out

Overdue Surveys

3A-168 Each periodical survey is assigned a due date specified by the relevant Rules by which it is to be completed.

A survey becomes overdue when it has not been completed by its due date. For example, with an anniversary date of 15th April, the annual survey can be validly carried out from 16th January to 15th July. If not completed by 15th July, the annual survey becomes overdue and class will be suspended automatically.

Recommendations/Conditions of Class

3A-169 ‘Recommendation’ and ‘Condition of Class’ are different terms used by IACS Societies for the same thing, i.e. requirements to the effect that specific measures, repairs, surveys, etc. are to be carried out within a specific time limit in order to retain class.


3A-170 Other information of assistance to the surveyor and owners may be recorded as ‘memoranda’ or a similar term. They may, for example, include notes concerning materials and other constructional information. A memorandum may also define a condition that, though deviating from the technical standard, does not affect the class (e.g. slight indents in the shell which do not have an effect on the overall strength of the hull or minor deficiencies, which do not affect the operational safety of the machinery).

3A- 171 In addition, memoranda could define recurring survey requirements, such as an annual survey of specified spaces, or retrofit requirements, which have the de-facto effect of conditions of class.

Specific questions in relation to the meaning of memoranda/recommendations/conditions of class are to be addressed to the Classification Society concerned through the owner of the ship.

Class Surveys periodicity and scope

Class Renewal Survey / Special Survey

3A-172 Class renewal surveys/special surveys are carried out at five-year intervals. However, consideration may be given by the Society, in exceptional circumstances, to granting an extension for a maximum period of three months after the due date. In such cases, the next period of the class will start from the due date for the previous class renewal survey before the extension was granted.

3A-173 The special survey may be commenced at the 4th annual survey and be progressed with a view to completion by the 5th-anniversary date.

3A-174 The class renewal surveys/special surveys include extensive examinations to verify that the structure, main and essential auxiliary machinery, systems, and equipment of the ship are in a condition that satisfies the relevant Rules. The examinations of the hull are generally supplemented by thickness measurements and witnessing of tests as specified in the Rules, and as deemed necessary by the attending surveyor, to assess that the structural condition remains effective and to help identify substantial corrosion, significant deformation, fractures, damages or other structural deterioration.

Annual Survey

3A-175 Annual surveys are to be carried out within a window from three months before to three months after each anniversary date.

At the time of annual surveys, the ship is generally examined. The survey includes an inspection of the hull, equipment, and machinery of the ship and some witnessing of tests, so far as is necessary and practical in order to verify that, in the opinion of the attending surveyor(s) the ship is in a general condition which satisfies the Rule requirements.

Intermediate Survey

3A-176 An intermediate survey is to be carried out within the window from three months before the second to three months after the third-anniversary date.

3A-177 The intermediate survey includes examinations and checks on the structure as specified in the Rules to verify that the vessel is in compliance with the applicable Rule requirements. The Rule criteria become more stringent with age.

According to the type and age of the ship, the examinations of the hull may be supplemented by thickness measurements as specified in the Rules and where deemed necessary by the attending surveyor.

Bottom / Docking Survey

3A-178 A bottom/docking survey is the examination of the outside of the ship’s hull and related items.

3A-179 This examination may be carried out with the ship either in dry dock (or on a slipway) or afloat: in the former case, the survey will be referred to as a dry-docking survey, while in the latter case an in-water survey. The conditions for acceptance of an in-water survey in lieu of a dry-docking survey will depend on the type and age of the ship and the previous history.

3A-180 The outside of the ship’s hull and related items are to be examined on two occasions in the five-year period of the certificate of class with a maximum of 36 months between surveys.

3A-181 One of the two bottom/docking surveys to be performed in the five-year period is to be concurrent with the class renewal/special survey.

3A-182 For ships subject to the Enhanced Survey Programme (ESP) and 15 years of age and above, the intermediate bottom/docking survey is to be carried out in a dry dock.

Tailshaft Survey

3A-183 A tailshaft survey is the survey of screwshafts and tube shafts (hereafter referred to as tail shafts) and the stern bearing.

The different types of surveys to which tail shafts may be subjected and the intervals are:

  • complete survey;
  • modified survey;
  • partial survey.

Tailshaft Complete Survey

3A-184 Tailshafts are to be submitted to complete examination at a periodicity based on the type of shaft and its design. “Complete” means that the shaft is drawn up for examination or that other equivalent means of examination are provided.

Tailshaft Modified Survey

3A-185 A modified survey of the tail shaft is an examination that may be accepted at alternate five-yearly surveys for tail shafts provided that the shaft arrangement is in accordance with specific requirements.

Tailshaft Partial Survey

3A-186 A partial survey allows a postponement of the complete survey, having a periodicity of 5 years, for 2.5 years.

Boiler Surveys

3A-187 Boilers and thermal oil heaters are to be surveyed twice every five-year period. The periodicity of the boiler survey is normally 2.5 years.

3A-188 Steam boilers, superheaters, and economizers are examined internally and externally. To this end, boilers are to be drained and suitably prepared for the examination of the water-steam side and the fireside. Where necessary, the external surfaces are to be made accessible for inspection by the removal of insulation and lining.

Non-periodical Surveys

3A-189 Such surveys are carried out for example:

  • to update classification documents (e.g. change of owner, name of the ship, change of flag);
  • to deal with damage or suspected damage, repair or renewal work, alterations or conversion, postponement of surveys, or outstanding recommendations/conditions of class;
  • At the time of port State control inspections.

3A-190 In the event of damage which affects or may affect the class of the ship, the owner is to advise the Society without delay.

3A-191 Arrangements are then made at the earliest opportunity for a surveyor to attend and ascertain the extent of the damage and determine if it is such that the vessel no longer complies with the applicable Rule requirements. Following repair, the surveyor will again assess the status of the vessel to determine if it has been returned to a condition that is in compliance with the applicable Rule requirements.

3A-192 Any damage in association with wastage over the allowable limits (including buckling, grooving, detachment, or fracture), or extensive areas of wastage over the allowable limits, which affects or, in the opinion of the surveyor, will affect the vessel’s structural, watertight or weathertight integrity, is to be promptly and thoroughly repaired thereby removing the need for the imposition of any associated condition of classification. Otherwise, damages and partial or temporary repairs considered acceptable by the surveyor for a limited period of time are covered by the issuance of an appropriate recommendation/condition of class.

3A-193 Damages or repairs required by the surveyor to be re-examined after a certain period of time are also covered by an appropriate recommendation/condition of class.

Class Certificate

Issue of the Certificate of Classification

3A-194 A certificate of classification, bearing the class notations assigned to the ship and expiry date, is issued to all classed ships. This certificate may also be provided with annexes supplying information sufficient for the management of the certificate, for determining the class survey date, and for immediate assessment of possible irregularities (overdue recommendations, etc.).

3A-195 An interim/provisional certificate of classification may serve as a certificate of classification in certain situations when deemed necessary by Society.

Validity of the certificate of classification

3A-196 A certificate of classification, properly endorsed, is valid until the expiry date unless advised otherwise by the Society or provided there are no grounds for suspension or withdrawal of class.

Endorsement of the certificate of classification

3A-197 When annual and intermediate surveys are satisfactorily completed, the certificate of classification is:

  • endorsed for the periodical surveys;
  • according to the practice of some Societies, endorsed accordingly with the relevant entries in the appropriate annexes attached to the certificate concerning the outstanding recommendations/conditions of class, if any, and/or the surveys held.

Where applicable, memoranda are also endorsed in the appropriate annex.

Definition and procedures related to statutory surveys and inspections


3A-198 A number of the Conventions require an initial survey before a vessel is put in service for the first time and receives its first certificate, and a certificate renewal survey at one, two, or five-year intervals thereafter, depending on the certificate and type of ship. In addition, for those certificates valid for more than one year, surveys at annual intervals are required, one of which, at approximately halfway and termed ‘intermediate’, may be of greater extent than an ordinary ‘annual’. The ‘Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) implemented by many Administrations under IMO resolution A.997(25), as amended, brings all SOLAS (except for passenger ships), MARPOL, and Load Line Convention surveys into a five-year cycle. With respect to safety equipment surveys, HSSC uses the term ‘periodical’ instead of ‘intermediate’, and for radio, ‘periodical’ instead of ‘annual’. These latter take the place of the renewal surveys held under the shorter certificate renewal cycles.

The scope of the survey can generally be harmonized with the extents of the classification surveys detailed above and, as far as possible, are held concurrently with them.

3A-199 The scope of each statutory survey or inspection is laid down by IMO resolutions and generally increases with age. It is to include sufficiently extensive examinations and checks to verify that the structure, machinery, systems, and relevant equipment such as the lifesaving, firefighting, or pollution prevention equipment are in satisfactory condition and in compliance with the applicable standards.

Between surveys, the Conventions require the flag Administration to make it compulsory for the owner to maintain the ship in conformance with the regulations so that the ship will remain fit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship or persons on board or unreasonable threat of harm to the marine environment.

Initial Statutory Survey

3A-200 An initial survey is a complete inspection before a ship is put into service of all the items relating to a particular certificate, to ensure that the relevant requirements are complied with and that these items are satisfactory for the service for which the ship is intended.

Renewal Statutory Survey

3A-201 A renewal survey is an inspection of the structure, machinery, and/or equipment, as applicable, to verify that their condition is in compliance with the requirements of the regulations. Modifications to the ship having a bearing on the conformity of the vessel to the requirements are to be declared by the owner and inspected.

Annual Statutory Survey

3A-202 An annual survey, in principle, includes a general inspection of the relevant structure and equipment of the ship to confirm that it has been maintained in accordance with the regulations and is in satisfactory condition.

Intermediate Statutory Survey

3A-203 An intermediate survey is an inspection of specified items relevant to the particular certificate to confirm that they are in satisfactory condition. Depending on the certificate concerned and the age of the ship, the scope may range from that of an annual to the equivalent of a renewal survey.

Periodical Statutory Survey

3A-204 Periodical surveys generally take the place of renewal surveys for those certificates which previously were renewed after one or two years. However, in the case of a Load Line Certificate which is issued on behalf of, or by, flag Administrations that have not implemented the harmonized system of survey and certification, the five-year renewal survey may be referred to as the ‘periodical’ survey.

Statutory Certificates


3A-205 Statutory certificates are issued by the RO in accordance with the terms of its recognition by the flag Administration. Variation of the delegation of statutory authority or certificates that can be issued by the RO exists between Administrations. The Administration should be contacted for specific details of the authorization.

Issue, endorsement, and withdrawal

3A-206 A certificate is issued or endorsed after the relevant surveys are passed. A certificate may be issued, valid for a short time period, listing corrective action to be rectified for minor deficiencies which do not prevent the issuance of a certificate to the ship.

For most Conventions, the Administration empowers the RO to withdraw or invalidate a certificate if the required corrective action is not taken.

Surveys, Verification, and Certification (IMO Criteria)

All ships must be surveyed and verified by officers of the flag State Administrations or recognized organizations (ROs)/recognized security organizations (RSOs)/nominated surveyors so that relevant certificates can be issued to establish that the ships are designed, constructed, maintained, and managed in compliance with the requirements of IMO Conventions, Codes, and other instruments.

IMO Conventions, Codes, and other instruments

  1. Conventions:
  • SOLAS, MARPOL, Load Lines, Tonnage 69, COLREG 72, AFS 2001, etc;
  1. Codes:
  • ISM, ISPS, HSC 1994/2000, IBC/BHC, IGC/GC, MODU, SPS Codes, etc; and
  1. Other instruments:
  • Global and uniform implementation of the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) (resolution A.883(21));
  • Survey guidelines under the Harmonized System on Survey and Certification (HSSC), 2015 (resolution A.1104(29));
  • International Code on the enhanced program of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code) (resolution A.1049(27), as amended);
  • Surveys and inspections of ro-ro passenger ships (resolution A.794(19));
  • Revised Guidelines on the implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code by Administrations (resolution A.1071(28))
  • Interim Guidance on control and compliance measures to enhance maritime security (MSC.159(78))

Certificates and documents

Certificates and documents required to be carried on board ships are listed in FAL.2/Circ.127-MEPC.1/Circ.817-MSC.1/Circ.1462, which was issued on 1 July 2013 and is subject to updating.

They include (some depending on the type of ship):

  • International Tonnage Certificate;
  • International Load Line Certificate;
  • Passenger Ship Safety Certificate;
  • Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate;
  • Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate;
  • Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate
  • Cargo Ship Safety Certificate
  • Safety Management Certificate
  • International Ship Security Certificate
  • Stability Information;
  • Damage Control Information;
  • Cargo Securing Manual
  • Minimum safe manning document
  • Certificates for masters, officers, or ratings
  • International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate
  • International Certificate for the Carriage of Noxious Liquid Substances
  • International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate
  • International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate
  • International Anti-fouling System Certificate
  • Oil Record Book
  • Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan
  • Garbage Management
  • Garbage Record Book

The certificates and documents are issued by the officers of flag State Administrations or ROs/RSOs/nominated surveyors authorized for the purpose and are subject to inspection by port State control officers (PSOs).

Reporting on exemption and equivalents under IMO mandatory instruments by flag Administrations, as well as the provision of specimen certificates, can be arranged using the GISIS module on Survey and Certification which can be accessed by Members (resolution A.1074(28) on notification and circulation through GISIS).

What is Harmonized Survey System for Ships?

A harmonized system of survey and certification covering international shipping regulations adopted by the International Maritime Organization enters into force on 3 February 2000.

The system covers survey and certification requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, the International Convention on Load Lines, (LL) 1966, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78), as well as the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code) and Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code).

All these instruments require the issuing of certificates to show that requirements have been met and this has to be done by means of a survey which can involve the ship being out of service for several days. The harmonized system will alleviate the problems caused by survey dates and intervals between surveys that do not coincide so that a ship should no longer have to go into port or repair yard for a survey required by one convention shortly after doing the same thing in connection with another instrument

Harmonized system adopted in 1988

The international requirements introducing the harmonized system of survey and certification for the SOLAS and Load Lines Conventions were adopted by IMO at an International Conference on the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification held in 1988 – which itself had its origins in the 1978 Conference on Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention which recognized the difficulties caused by the survey and certification requirements of SOLAS, the Load Lines Convention and MARPOL 73/78. The 1978 Conference called upon IMO to develop a harmonized system that would enable the surveys to be carried out at the same time.

The 1988 HSSC Conference adopted Protocols to the SOLAS and Load Lines Conventions to introduce the harmonized system. Both Protocols required explicit acceptance by a specified number of States – 15 States with a combined merchant shipping fleet of not less than 50 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage – for the system to enter into force.

The conditions for entry into force of the 1988 SOLAS and Load Lines Protocols were met on 2 February 1999, when the Bahamas deposited instruments of accession to both instruments with IMO. Malta also recently acceded to the 1988 Protocols. The 1988 Load Lines Protocol has 36 States Parties with 58.58 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage. The 1988 SOLAS Protocol has 36 States Parties with 58.10 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage.

In terms of MARPOL 73/78, the Convention allowed for amendments to the certification and survey requirements to be accepted by a procedure known as “tacit acceptance”, meaning amendments enter into force on a specified date unless sufficient objections are received. As a result, MARPOL 73/78 was amended on 16 March 1990 to introduce the harmonized system of survey and certification, with the proviso that the amendments enter into force at the same time as the entry into force date of the 1988 SOLAS Protocol and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol.

The harmonized system

In practice, many Administrations and classification societies already operate a form of harmonized survey and certification. Moreover, a resolution adopted by the IMO Assembly in 1991, and amended in 1993 (Resolution A.718(17), as modified by resolution A.745(18)), allowed for Governments that had ratified the 1988 SOLAS and Load Lines Protocols to implement the harmonized system ahead of the entry into force date of the protocols.

The harmonized system provides for:

  • a one-year standard interval between surveys, based on the initial, annual, intermediate, periodical, and renewal surveys as appropriate;
  • a scheme for providing the necessary flexibility for the execution of each survey with the provision that the renewal survey may be completed within three months before the expiry date of the existing certificate with no loss of its period of validity;
  • a maximum period of validity of five years for all certificates for cargo ships;
  • a maximum period of validity of 12 months for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate;
  • a system for the extension of certificates limited to three months to enable a ship to complete its voyage (or one month for ships engaged on short voyages);
  • when an extension has been granted, the period of validity of the new certificate is to start from the expiry date of the existing certificate before its extension.

The main changes to the SOLAS and Load Lines Conventions are that annual inspections have been made mandatory for cargo ships and unscheduled inspections have been discontinued. Other changes refer to survey intervals and requirements.

Tacit acceptance in LL Convention

The 1988 Load Lines Protocol also introduces the “tacit acceptance” amendment procedure into the Load Lines Convention. At present, amendments enter into force after they have been positively accepted by two-thirds of Parties to the Convention, but the procedure has proved to be so slow in practice that none of the amendments adopted to the Convention has ever entered into force.

Under tacit acceptance, amendments enter into force on a date chosen at the time of adoption, unless they are rejected by one-third of Parties or by Parties the combined merchant fleets of which represent 50 percent of the gross tonnage of all the world’s merchant fleets.

The tacit acceptance procedure will enable changes to the Convention, as modified by the Protocol, to enter into force within a period determined by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). This is important because the Convention is currently being revised by IMO. Further changes are also expected to be made affecting bulk carriers as a result of a report published in 1998 on the sinking of the bulk carrier Derbyshire in September 1980 with the loss of more than 40 lives. This was presented to the MSC in May 1998 by the United Kingdom and contains recommendations relating to the design and construction of bulk carriers.

The Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels Safety (SLF) agreed at its 42nd session (8-12 February 1999) to establish a correspondence group to prepare a draft text of new amendments to the 1966 LL Convention, as well as to look at what action may be needed as regards bulk carrier safety and a number of other issues. The Sub-Committee agreed that it has been clearly demonstrated that current LL Convention standards may be inadequate with respect to wave loads and permissible strength of hatch covers for bulk carriers and other ship types.

Assembly resolution

In November 1999, IMO’s 21st Assembly adopted resolution A.883(21) Global and uniform implementation of the harmonized system of survey and certification (HSSC), which is aimed at encouraging all States to implement the harmonized system of survey and certification (HSSC), even if they are not parties to the relevant Protocols, which enter into force on 3 February 2000.

Further information – Types of ship survey

Initial survey – A complete inspection of all the items relating to the particular certificate before the ship is put into service to ensure they are in a satisfactory condition and fit for the service for which the ship is intended.

Periodical survey – Inspection of the items relating to the particular certificate to ensure that they are in satisfactory condition and fit for the service for which the ship is intended.

Renewal survey – As per periodical survey but leads to the issue of a new certificate.

Intermediate survey – Inspection of specified items

The annual survey – General inspection of the items relating to the particular certificate to ensure that they have been maintained and remain satisfactory for the service for which the ship is intended.

Additional survey – Inspection, either general or partial according to the circumstances, to be made after a repair resulting from casualty investigations or whenever any important repairs or renewals are made.

 List of certificates required on board ship relating to harmonized system of survey and certification (some depend on the type of ship)

  • Passenger Ship Safety Certificate, including Record of Equipment
  • Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate
  • Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate, including Record of Equipment
  • Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate, including Record of Equipment
  • Cargo Ship Safety Certificate, including Record of Equipment
  • International Load Lines Certificate
  • International Load Lines Exemption Certificate
  • International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate
  • International Pollution Prevention Certificate for the Carriage of Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
  • International Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk
  • International Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Liquefied Gases in Bulk
  • Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk

Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) Amendments

 The survey guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) were originally adopted as Assembly Resolution A.746 (18). Since then the guidelines have been constantly reviewed and updated to accommodate new regulatory requirements. The current revision of the Guidelines covers new requirements entering into force up to and including 31 December 2015. While these guidelines are not mandatory under the IMO, the guidelines are mandatory for all European Recognized Organizations under EU Regulation 391/2099.

The IMO Resolution A.1104 (29) “Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification, (HSSC) 2015” REVOKES resolutions A.1053 (27) and A.1076 (28).


PO02-P01 Technical supervision of ships in services (Ver. 02, 09-2021)

PE02-P02 Employment and monitoring of Surveyors and Auditors (Version 02, 02-2022)

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Exam Questions

1. The objectives of the ICS Class Procedure P-CI-03(I) for the Survey and Interim Certification are described as follow:

2. The Operations Department, the Class & Statutory Department and the Managers of the Branch Offices, are responsible to ensure the compliance of the requirements of ICS Class Procedure P-CI-03(I) for the Survey and Interim Certification for the achievement of its objectives. The ICS Class surveyors/auditors are responsible to comply the specific provisions of this procedure when performing any type of the authorized survey/audit and as a result, the issuance of the corresponding Interim/Short Term & Conditional Certificates.

3. Statutory certification and services: Means certificates issued, and services provided, on the authority of laws, rules and regulations set down by the government of a sovereign state. This includes plan review, survey, and/or audit leading to the issuance of, or in support of the issuance of, a certificate by or on behalf of a Flag State Administration as evidence of compliance with requirements contained in an international convention or national legislation. This includes certificates issued by an organization recognized by the Flag State Administration in accordance with the provisions of SOLAS regulation XI-1/1, and which may incorporate demonstrated compliance with the structural, mechanical and electrical requirements of the RO under the terms of its agreement of recognition with the Flag State Administration

4. Statutory / Class Initial survey: A complete inspection before a ship is put into service of all the items relating to a particular certificate to ensure that the relevant requirements are comply with and that these items are satisfactory for the service for which the ship is intended

5. Statutory /Class Periodical Survey: Is an inspection of the items relating to the particular certificate to ensure that they are in a satisfactory condition and fit for the service for which the ship is intended.

6. Statutory / Class Renewal Survey: Is the same as a periodical survey but leads to the issue of a new certificate.

7. Statutory / Class Intermediate Survey: Inspection of specified items relevant to the particular certificate to ensure that they are in a satisfactory condition and fit for the services for which the ship is intended.

8. Statutory / Class Annual Survey: Is a general inspection of the items relating to the particular certificate to ensure that they have been maintained and remain satisfactory for the service for which the ship is intended.

9. Inspection of the outside of the ship’s bottom: Is an inspection of the underwater part of the ship and related items to ensure that they are in a satisfactory condition and fit for the service for which the ship is intended.

10. Additional Survey: Is an inspection, either general or partial according to the circumstances, to be made after a repair resulting from investigations or whenever any important repairs or renewals are made.

11. Interim certificate: It is a certificate issued by the attending surveyor upon satisfactory completion of a survey in order to permit the ship to trade while the permanent/full term certificate is prepared. An interim certificate is valid for five (5) months from the date of completion of the survey on which the certificate is basis.

12. Conditional certificate: It is a certificate that is issued by the attending surveyor prior authorization of the Flag State Administration. A conditional certificate is valid only for a period long enough to permit the ship to proceed to the port where the correction will be made, not exceeding two (2) months

13. Interim Certificate (DOC, SMC, ISSC and MLC): Is the certificate valid for six (6) months issued immediately upon completion of the interim verification/inspection of the company/ship based on regulations for interim certification established by ISM Code, ISPS Code and MLC, 2006

14. Short Term Certificate (DOC, SMC, ISSC and MLC): It is a certificate valid for five (5) months issued immediately upon completion of the initial/renewal verification/inspection of the company/ship to enable it to operate / trade while the verification/inspection reports are processed by the ICS Class-Head Office pursuant to issuing its full term certificates valid for five (5) years.

15. The first contact of ICS Surveyors to the request of quotations and authorizations is:

16. ICS Surveyors should complete and submit the applicable request for survey/audit form. For all requests a copy of the previous full term statutory/class certificates (with supplements attached) including the mandatory annual/intermediate/dry dock surveys duly endorsed, must be submitted, unless previous or valid certificates were issued by ICS Class Head Office

17. The issuance of Interim/Short Term Certificates to a ship/company: These certificates cannot be issued until all requirements and activities specified in the ICS Class Rules and technical regulations, IMO Instruments, national legislation, specifications appropriate to the work to be done and technical documentation have been satisfactorily completed and recorded, as well as any specific instruction delivered by the ICS Class Head Office.

18. The procedures and criteria for the issuance of a Document of Compliance (DOC) to a Company and/or a Safety Management Certificate (SMC) to a ship, including the issuance of Interim/Short Term DOCs and/or SMC’s, are established in the ICS “Instructive for ISM Code”.

19. The procedures and criteria for the issuance of International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC) to a ship, including the Ship Security Plan (SSP) approval and the issuance of Interim/Short Term ISSC, are established in the ICS “Instructive requirements for ISPS Code certification”

20. For all cases, Conditional Certificates for a ship only can be issued with the previous authorization of the Flag State Administration and by specific instructions of the Class & Statutory Department

21. For transfer of class (TOC) between ICS and other classification society/recognized organization, prior to issuing an Interim Class Certificate (Hull & Machinery), the ICS surveyor must submit to the Class & Statutory Department the following documents/information

22. The Interim/Short Term & Conditional Certificates, except the class certificates, should be codified (Certificate’s number) according to the following codification system: Example: ICS-16-08-001 Where: ICS - Intermaritime Certification Services (ICS). 16 - Year in which the certificate is issued. 08 - Number of the ICS Class branch office in which the certificate is issued. 001- Consecutive number assigned by the representative (branches) office locally

23. All certificates/documents/information generated as a result of the survey/audit carried out by authorized surveyors or auditors must be submitted to ICS Class-Head Office within:

24. A copy of the Certificate of Approval of Service Suppliers used during the execution of the statutory surveys must be submitted to ICS Class-Head Office as a mandatory requirement:

25. No full term certificates will be issued until survey/audit is completed and all ICS Class forms, documents and information has been forwarded by ICS Class surveyor and has been well received at ICS Class-Head Office accordingly.

26. All certificates and ICS Class Forms issued should be only signed and sealed by the authorized surveyor/auditor.

27. The statutory certification and services of ICS Class are regulated by:

28. The ICS Class Quality Management System (QMS) has been designed and implemented in compliance of the requirements established in the standard ISO 9001:2015, Quality Management System-Requirements and the IMO Resolutions MSC.349 (92) and MEPC.237 (65) “Code for Recognized Organizations”

29. ICS Class shall perform statutory certification and services by the use of only exclusive surveyors and auditors, being persons solely employed by ICS Class, duly qualified, trained and authorized to execute all duties and activities incumbent upon their employer, within their level of work responsibility.

30. The ICS Class personnel performing and responsible for statutory certification and services shall have, as a minimum, the following formal education: