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1. Introduction to Legislation, Rules, and Standards

2. Classification Rules and Regulations


Introduction to Legislation, Rules, and Standards


Various legislation, rules & regulations and standards exist to guide ship designers, operators and owners in ensuring that the ships in their care are safe and structurally sound, environmentally friendly and built to an expected quality standard.
Rules and Regulations can be accepted voluntarily and is generated by the following bodies:

  • Classification Societies
  • Non-Governmental International Organizations
  • Industrial Associations

Legislation are mandatory criteria and requirements that must be met. These are generated by both National and International organisations. Additionally, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) drafts conventions that must be enforced by all signatory member states.

Classification Societies

Classification societies are organizations that develop and apply technical standards related to the design, building, and inspection of marine installations such as ships and offshore platforms. Most ships that are built around the world today are inspected in accordance to the Rules and Regulations developed and published by the Classification Societies. Figure 209 below shows the logos of all Classification Societies that are signatories to the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).

Legislations, Rules and Standards in Ship Design

A ship designed and built in accordance to the Rules of a Classification Society obtains Class Certification. The Certificate is issued after the conclusion of the relevant Classification Society surveys. Such a certificate does not imply a safety guarantee suitable to the objective or of the seaworthiness of the ship. It only states that the ship complies to the Rules of the Classification Society in question and has been built to an acceptable international standard.

The Rules and Regulations of the Classification Society were developed to mainly assess the following:

  • The structural resistance and the integrity of the main parts of the hull and its appendages.
  • The reliability and functioning of the propulsion and manoeuvring systems, energy generation and other auxiliary systems that are incorporated in the ship to keep the essential services on-board operational and to ensure the safety of both the ship and persons on-board.

It must be noted that the Rules and Regulations of a Classification Society are not intended to be a design code, and should therefore not be used as such.

The activity of the Classification Societies is recognized and ruled by two resolutions from the IMO. These resolutions are:

  • Resolution A.739(18) “Guidelines for the Authorization Organizations Acting on Behalf of the Administration” of which IMO is the Administration.
  • Resolution A.789(19) “Specifications on the Survey and Certification Functions of Recognized Organizations Acting on Behalf of the Administration”.


International Association of Classification Societies (IACS)

Currently, there are about 50 organizations worldwide which define themselves as Classification Societies. Eleven (11) of those organizations are associated with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).  Their website can be accessed at www.iacs.org.uk.

The main purpose of IACS is to ensure that unified requirements and Rules and Regulations are created and enforced across all Classification Societies. These resolutions are adopted about subjects which directly relates to the Rules and Regulations of Classification Societies, and must be incorporated in the Rules of each member or associate registered as a member of IACS.

  • IACS specifies their unified interpretation and requirements of, and includes, the following applicable IMO conventions and codes:
  • IMO Chemical Code
  • Fire Test Procedure
  • Liquefied Gases in Bulk
  • High Speed Craft Code
  • Load Line Convention
  • MARPOL Convention
  • Passenger Submersible Craft
  • Tonnage Measurement

The following Classification Societies are members of IACS. The respective website information has been added for information:

It must be noted however that there are other Classification Societies, that maintains a high level of standards and requirements pertaining to quality, whom does not form part of IACS. A few of these are:

Industrial Associations

Additional to classification societies, various Industrial Organisations also exist that specify various rules and regulations for ships. Some of these organisations are:

OCIMF – Oil Companies International Maritime Forum www.ocimf.com

SIGTTO – Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators www.sigtto.org

INTERTANKO – The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners intertanko.com

INTERCARGO – The International Association of Dry Cargo Ship Owners www.intercargo.com

BIMCO – Baltic and International Marine Council www.bimco.org

National and International Legislation

In contrast to the voluntary nature of Classification Rules and Regulations, governments can, and will, enforce mandatory legislation both internationally and nationally. These legislations are generally based on the conventions as enforced by the IMO, and will therefore be essentially the same as that applied by the Classification Societies in their Rules and Regulations.

Some examples of National Legislation are:

Some examples of International Legislation are:

  • Those legislations produced by the Council, European Commission and the European Parliament. www.europe.eu
  • The IMO, to which all member states must comply and enforce. www.imo.org


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