Classification societies are organisations which develop and apply technical standards to the design, construction and assessment of ships (and other marine facilities) and which carry out survey work on ships. Flag states can authorise classification societies for the inspection and statutory certification of their ships. There are more than 50 organisations worldwide which define their activities as providing marine classification, but only 10 classification societies (see below) are presently recognised by the European Union.
Only Member States can request EU recognition of a classification society and the enlargement of the EU may lead to additions to the EU recognised list. EU Member States can only authorise a classification society recognised by the European Union.
The main Union legislation that deals with classification societies is Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 and Directive 2009/15/EC (as amended after the Erika disaster). In accordance with this, the Commission assesses each of the EU recognised classification societies once every two years. EMSA has been entrusted by the Commission with the task of carrying out the necessary inspections on its behalf. EMSA therefore organises a number of inspections per year, which cover both head offices and selected regional, field and site offices, and also include visits to ships for the purpose of checking the performance of the classification society in question. EMSA also carries out the necessary inspections whenever the Commission needs to assess classification societies for which EU recognition is being requested by one or more Member States.
Directive 2009/15/EC on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations
This Directive together with Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations (See also the section on Classification Societies) is continuously addressed by EMSA. The visits conducted and referred to in this section only relates to the monitoring of recognised organisations which have been authorised by the Member Stated visited.
The cycle of visits to the Member States in relation to Directive 2009/15/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations, as amended, was initiated in 2011. No further visits are currently envisaged.
The purpose of the Directive is set out in Article 1:
This Directive establishes measures to be followed by the Member States in their relationship with organisations entrusted with the inspection, survey and certification of ships for compliance with the international conventions on safety at sea and prevention of marine pollution, while furthering the objective of freedom to provide services. This includes the development and implementation of safety requirements for hull, machinery and electrical and control installations of ships falling under the scope of the international conventions.
The objective of the visit is to view and document the system in place in the Member State used for implementing the requirements
of the Directive. The visits will in particular examine the following:
-American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
-Bureau Veritas (BV)
-China Classification Society (CCS)
-DNV GL AS
-Korean Register of Shipping (KR)
-Lloyd's Register of Shipping (LR)
-Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK)
-Polish Register of Shipping (PRS)
-Registro Italiano Navale (Rina)
-Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS)