ABS Reports Record Number Of Vessels Under Classification

The number of vessels in American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) classification has climbed to a record total, William N. Johnston, the chairman and president, reported at the semiannual meeting of the international ship classification society.

ABS classed 388 new vessels of 3,200,000 dwt or 1,857,000 gt in the first six months of 1981, and 45 existing vessels of 784,000 dwt or 438,000 gt. "With these additions, the number of vessels in ABS classification climbed to a record total," Mr. Johnston said. As of mid-year there were 15,956 vessels of 196,021,000 dwt or 110,088,000 gt in ABS classification, representing 91 flags of registry.

The chairman said that ABS classification contracts for newbuildings were received at a brisk rate in the first six months. During that period contracts to class 679 new vessels of 4,582,000 dwt or 2,658,000 gt were received, with particularly strong contributions coming from the dry bulk carrier, mobile offshore drilling unit, supply vessel, and fishing vessel sectors.

The newbuilding classification contracts, from 44 countries, enabled the ABS order book to reach a mid-year total of 2,234 vessels of 19,297,000 dwt or 12,471,000 gt. Mr.

Johnston said, "We have not had this many vessels on our order book since January of 1977, and it supports our sense of confidence in the future outlook for ABS and the maritime industry." Mr. Johnston noted that according to many estimates the world's bulk carrier fleet is expected to increase by 20 percent in the next three years. He said that ABS experience supports this projection as contracts to class 56 bulk carriers were received in the first six months of 1981 — more than the total number received in all of 1980 for this type of vessel.

"Orders for mobile offshore drilling units have surged to a remarkable level," the chairman reported. ABS received contracts to class 78 units in the first six months of 1981, increasing the total drilling units contracted for or being built to ABS class to 222, and at that time there were an additional 321 units in ABS classification.

Mr. Johnston added that ABS activity with the classification of offshore installations has moved ahead strongly. ABS classed five installations in the first half of this year. There are a total of eight installations now classed by ABS. In addition, there were 12 installations contracted for or being built to ABS classification.

ABS classed 47 support boats for the offshore industry in the first six months and received contracts to class 106 more, twice the number of contracts received in all of 1980 for these vessels. ABS also received contracts to class 63 fishing vessels in the first half, triple the number in all of 1980.

In the first six months 57,600 containers were certified to ABS "Container Rules," an increase of 40 percent over the first half of 1980. Earlier this year, ABS certified its 500,000th container.

The ABS quality assurance program has been expanded with the addition of quality control procedures for the manufacture of diesel engines, gas turbines, reduction gears, container refrigeration machinery, and rotating electrical equipment. The chairman said that 58 manufacturing plants are now producing materials and components under the ABS quality assurance programs.

The computerized survey status system for ABS-classed vessels continues to be expanded.

Seven offices on three continents were added in the first half of this year, making a total of 38 ABS offices and seven clients who have direct access to the system.

ABS continues to devote effort to research and development. Mr. Johnston cited some of the projects in which ABS was involved, including the evaluation of ice loading on ships, collision damage resistance of offshore structures, propeller blade strength, effects of extreme wave-induced loads on ship designs, and fatigue evaluation of ships and other marine structures.

Mr. Johnston reported that in June ABS had signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the U.S. Coast Guard providing for Coast Guard acceptance of ABS plan review on the inspection of selected items on new vessel construction classed by ABS and certified by the Coast Guard.

The items covered include: hull structure of ships, mobile offshore drilling units and barges, as well as inert gas systems, crude oil washing systems, and certain piping systems.

Mr. Johnston said that discussions to to expand the areas of cooperation covered by the memordandum are continuing.

As of mid-year, 83 governments had authorized ABS to issue loadline certificates under the 1966 International Convention. Of the 51 governments that previously had authorized ABS to act on their behalf for SOLAS-6O, as of mid-year 34 of those governments have extended their authorizations for SOLAS-74. ABS also is authorized by 46 governments to issue national tonnage certificates on their behalf.

Regarding MARPOL 1974 and the associated International Conference on Tanker Safety on Pollution Prevention, known as the Protocol of 1978, ABS has been involved with the review of tankers for compliance to the regulations. To date, ABS has reviewed inert gas systems of more than 450 vessels, and reviewed the crude oil washing and clean ballast tank or segregated ballast tank systems of more than 400 vessels.

Other stories from November 1981 issue


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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.