Thursday, June 8,
society "surprised" at
The Polish class society PRS has reacted to the decision taken by IACS Council to terminate its Associate membership stating: "We were very surprised by this and we do not believe such a course of action was merited by the facts associated with LEADER L and the period during which it was classed by PRS".
"After more careful review and consideration of IACS Council's statement, we consider the explanations and justification given for this decision do not address the primary reason for IACS' investigation, which should be focused on the cause of LEADER L's loss", commented Dr. Jan Jankowski, Director General of Polski Rejestr Statków and Managing Director of its Marine Division.
"PRS does understand the intention which lies behind this decision", he added, "which is to eliminate substandard ships. But the expulsion of PRS from IACS is considered to be an excessive reaction to the circumstances which relate to LEADER L and it will not change the situation in classification nor will it improve safety at sea".
PRS also said the speed with which the IACS decision was reached was also of concern to PRS, as the full report of its investigation into the loss of LEADER L had not yet been completed. A summary of the Preliminary Results of PRS investigation was presented by Dr. Jankowski at the Council's meeting on 31 May, which indicated that there were significant findings related to the sinking which could be relevant to other bulk carrier losses.
The Polish Register of Shipping also firmly contradicted IACS statements that LEADER L was "evidently in poor condition, for some time", while operating under PRS class.
"Any independent unbiased review and assessment of the vessel's survey history from the time of its transfer of class from LR to PRS, in May 1997, will confirm that the surveys carried out were made strictly in accordance with the recognized system for such surveys and the results of these surveys were satisfactory", stated Dr. Jankowski.
"From the class point of view, within the system applied, there were no significant deficiencies or structural defects identified during our surveys that would cause or contribute to the vessel's sinking", he explained.
The results of IACS Ad Hoc Audit in May confirmed this situation, and the audit report was not disputed by PRS. It was considered to be a fair representation of the facts, but it gave no grounds for the conclusions reached by IACS Council.
After the 1999 Annual Survey the ship was also subjected to inspections by various other respected organizations, including the underwriters (May 1999 and March 2000), the US Coast Guard (July 1999), the US Department of Agriculture (July 1999: inspection of all holds, which were found fit for the shipment of grain), and Panama Flag State (August 1999). No class related deficiencies, serious or otherwise, were found during this range of independent inspections.
IACS is aware of this history, and of the positive results recorded, which seem to have been ignored when reviewing and commenting on the IACS auditors' report from the special audit.The Council's conclusion that "this review showed evidence of serious managerial shortcomings on the part of PRS" is a view that is strongly rejected by the Polish Register, which considers that it has acted strictly in accordance with the requirements and disciplines imposed by the IACS Quality System Certification Scheme (QSCS) under which PRS operates.
"This situation had no material relevance to our records of the condition of LEADER L at the time of the survey, nor to our investigation into the vessel's loss, and IACS auditors performing the Ad Hoc Audit were fully informed of these facts", he added.
Because the surveyor had breached the Code of Ethics his permit to perform surveys was immediately suspended and he was dismissed from PRS as a consequence.
Report of PRS investigation into the loss of LEADER L
The full PRS investigation report is nearly completed and should be available by end June or mid July at the latest, depending or whether or not any further information is received from outside sources.
PRS says the investigation has been wide ranging. As well as including information from PRS surveys, it covers statements from the surviving crew members, a Master and Officers who had served very recently on LEADER L, and communications between the Master and Owner during the period leading up to the vessel sinking.
Distribution of the full report is scheduled to be made to the Flag State (Panama), IACS, Intercargo (which has specifically requested a copy as soon as possible), the owner, the Greek Committee of PRS, and others such as the US Coast Guard, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Bermuda Government Registry of Shipping. A copy will also be freely available in response to requests from any organizations.
PRS believes there will be considerable demand for the Report, which includes important information revealed by its analysis of the circumstances and simulation of the sinking of LEADER L.
"We have reached the following preliminary conclusions as a result of the data produced", states Dr. Jankowski. "Firstly, the evident problem with bulk carrier safety is not restricted to Hold No.1, which has been the focus of IACS attention in the past. LEADER L's problem started in Hold No.4, leading to the progressive forward collapse of bulkheads to Hold Nos. 3, 2 and 1, and the consequent sinking of the vessel"
"Secondly, there is the need to consider impact caused by sloshing, which must be recognized as a potential contributory factor in the sinking of bulk carriers", he added.
"This especially applies to bulk carriers loaded with cargoes which will readily go into solution with water, such as the salt carried by LEADER L, or when the ship is loaded in alternate holds."
"These are important findings related to the loss of bulk carriers", concludes Dr Jankowski. "PRS would have preferred to communicate its findings to the industry at large under the "umbrella" of IACS, as the qualified and recognized control voice of the classification industry, but unfortunately we are now unable to do so".
SUMMARY OF PRELIMINARY RESULTS
OF PRS INVESTIGATION
1. The ship was transferred to
PRS class from LR in July 1997 after a special survey (with thickness
measurements taken) which was commenced by LR in February 1997
and completed in July 97 by PRS. All recommendations of losing
society were executed. Class was granted for 5 years.
a. May 1999: by the underwriters;
4. In March 2000, intermediate
survey was commenced at the request of the Operator. Because
of the way it was performed the hull related part of that survey
had been invalidated (class confirmed in 1999 remained valid
till 13 May 2000).
a. external reason (e.g. ship
struck by alien object);
7. Irrespective of the actual
cause of the casualty, which is under investigation, the case
mentioned in 6c is the one to be seriously considered as it lies
on the classification side. The findings may give opportunity
for improvement of bulk carrier supervision system, which could
refer not only to class but also to other parties in maritime
Preliminary general conclusions
1. Damage of side structure and
resulting hold flooding occurred in heavy weather conditions.
Salt dissolved and sloshing was induced. The same can happen
in case of other cargo or empty holds. The corrugated bulkheads
are not able to sustain the sloshing loads.