Port Security Conference

April 28 2003

BV cautious on "double hulls for everything"
"We are concerned that, in the rush towards demanding double hulls for everything, our political leaders may have lost sight of practicality," says Bernard Anne, managing director of the marine division of classfication society Bureau Veritas. "Double hulls for new tankers are now a fact and have become the standard design. This concept is now beginning to be applied to bulk carriers. But we all know that double-hulls are not a panacea and they have pros and cons. Single-hull bulk carriers can be just as robust, and there are many good robust ships out there today with a useful life. I would much rather see a single-hull ship built to high standards and then well maintained by a quality owner, than have a double-hull ship built down to shipyard minimums, then maintained at minimum levels."

Anne was speaking after Bureau Veritas announced strongly improved financial results for the 2002-2003 financial year. BV's marine activity grew by a further eight per cent last year as part of a continuing upward trend. During 2002, BV's classed fleet grew to a record 6,600 vessels totaling 40 million gt, and its share of the world newbuilding orderbook also grew to over ten per cent, with an especially strong performance in sectors such as LNG, passengerships and chemical tankers.

Anne called the results "very satisfying" and said that "being part of such a strong group allows us to bring major resources to bear on specific problems in a way others simply cannot afford."

"During last year--and it is still ongoing--we have focused heavily on bulk carrier safety,and on finding practical, workable solutions within IACS which will have global application and behind which the industry can unite," said Anne.

Anne says BV will shortly publish a set of guidelines for bulk carrier construction. They are aimed at helping owners to decide on structural configuration and to assist them in negotiations with yards.

Commenting on EU proposals for early phase out of double hull tankers, Anne said: "We simply don't believe that you can design every problem out of a ship's structure, as maintenance will always be the key factor in how safe a ship is as it grows older. Let's take the example of single hull tankers built between 1986 and 1996 which under the proposals the EU is pushing forward will face early scrapping in 2010, the youngest being only 14 years old. Most of them are well built and well maintained by quality owners. We as an industry should be able to propose new techniques and methods including FEM calculations and fatigue analysis for assessing the capacity of these ships to operate in safe conditions up to their normal lifespan. What makes the real differences between the strength of ships is much more often a matter of build quality and maintenance than a matter of design.

"In BV," he said, "we trust in the development of new technologies. Whatever will be the future design of ships, double or single hull, these developments will contribute to make safer shipping and this is why, using our financial strength, we will continue to invest heavily in this field."

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