GL warns against shipping hitting hard times

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Leading classification society Germanischer Lloyd has spoken out to shipowners and operators to remain vigilant to maintaining safety and quality standards of vessels in a period of economic downturn, and has issued advice on how to save costs under widespread financial strain.

Concern is rife over the possible future construction of substandard vessels off the back of a global credit crisis, as the worry for shipyards to cut corners in terms of quality of materials and safety standards becomes a future probability in the strive to cut production and maintenance costs.

Dr Olaf Mager from Germanischer Lloyd has said that the economic crisis provides “a good opportunity to remind all players in the maritime industry that classification societies cannot be regarded as the guarantors of safety of life or property at sea or the seaworthiness of a vessel,” and that “it is up to the owner to maintain his vessel in accordance with the classification rules.”

“The shipping industry is a mature business. An attempt to get away with poor maintenance and substandard quality would be extremely short sighted. Classification rules, ports state controls and other surveys apply no matter whether the economical climate has changed,” he warned.

Germanischer Lloyd acknowledged that the financial turmoil washing over the shipping industry is a major cause of concern for the quality and safety standards of vessels, and while Dr Mager stated that “most savings can be generated during the newbuilding phase,” it is no excuse for shipyards to turn out poorer standards of vessels, and even less excuse for owners and operators to slacken maintenance requirements.

The classification society asserted that there are more long-term issues to deal with than the current economic fluctuations in the industry, relating specifically to energy-efficient fuelling and the environmental factors of shipping. “Shipyards play a crucial role in building a new generation of energy efficient ships, and ships with higher energy efficiency will enjoy greater competitiveness in future,” Dr Mager said.

He also underlined awareness for ship recycling to be adopted prior to an IMO convention coming into force, and asserted that “it is high time to incorporate the requirements of a new convention within the newbuilding contract with the ship yard in order to save costs.”