APRIL 2, 2013 — The question of to what structural standards ships should be built may seem pretty arcane, but having effective structural rules is fundamental to having a market in which shipowners can be assured that, wherever they order a ship, it will stay afloat for a reasonable period after its acceptance trials. So the news that the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has released the second draft of its harmonized Common Structural Rules (CSR) is significant.
For many years, structural standards for ships were largely set by individual classification societies. This worked well enough until ships started being designed by computers and it seemed that the requisite structural strength could be achieved with less and less steel. That led to worries that margins for corrosion were becoming insufficient and, after some in-fighting in the classification world, IACS came up with its Common Structural Rules (CSR) for Double Hull Oil Tankers and Bulk Carriers. Adopted by IACS Council in December 2005, they and came into force in April 2006.
The tanker rules and the bulker were developed independently and there were some variances in the technical approaches adopted for some elements of the rules.
To remove variations and achieve consistency, IACS made a commitment to industry to harmonize the CSR, and the harmonization project for the two sets of rules began in 2008. This has resulted in a single set of rules with common, harmonized requirements applicable to both tankers and bulkers, with specific sections of additional requirements applicable to each ship type.
Meantime, since 2002, IMO has been working on "goal-based ship construction standards" (now known as GBS) that would permit innovation in design but ensure that ships are constructed in such a manner that, if properly maintained, they remain safe for their entire economic life. At the same time, the IMO standards will require that all parts of a ship can be easily accessed to permit proper inspection and ease of maintenance.
The IMO Goal Based Standards (GBS) will come into force in the middle of 2016 and a key objective of the IACS CSR harmonization project has been to achieve full compliance with them. With this in mind, the second release of the draft harmonized CSR and technical background address the Functional Requirements of the IMO Goal Based Standards (GBS), where they fall within the scope of the IACS rules.
This second draft of the harmonized CSR builds on the first draft that was released in July 2012 and takes into account feedback received during the first draft review period. As part of the agreed process of development, IACS is inviting industry to offer comments on all parts of the draft rules before the end of August 2013. Feedback should be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The harmonization of the rules involves extensive technical work, testing and calibration, and now a further period for the maritime industry and other stakeholders to review the second draft of harmonized CSR and raise questions, observations and general feedback. To assist with the review Consequence Assessment (CA) reports are being published with this second draft.
This final industry review period will be followed by IACS Societies' Technical Committees review in the Autumn of 2013 with a view to adopting the harmonised CSR by IACS Council in December 2013.
As with the first review, IACS will be using a "Knowledge Center" (KC) on the IACS website to record questions, observations and feedback. The Knowledge Center can be accessed HERE. http://iacs-csrkc.org.uk