In the wake of two high-profile shipwrecks, the world's ship-classification societies are endorsing proposals that they try to eliminate substandard vessels by tightening inspections of older ships.
In addition, the the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), which represents many of the world's ship-classification societies, announced this week that it is cutting off the associate status of Poland's classification group, the Polish Register of Shipping (PRS).The decision to ostracize the Polish register came after an audit found ''serious managerial shortcomings on the part of PRS'' in its handling of the ship Leader L, a PRS-classed vessel of questionable seaworthiness that sank off the cost of Nova Scotia on March 23.
In a statement issued after its council met in Hamburg, the IACS said the audit found that the Leader L ''had been operating under PRS class, evidently in poor condition, for some time.''
The statement said the audit's facts were not disputed by PRS, which could not be reached for comment today.
The IACS council announced that it had decided ''to terminate PRS' associate status in the IACS with immediate effect'' because the council is determined ''not to tolerate substandard ships within the association.''
The other recent ship accident that the IACS analyzed was the December wreck of the tanker Erika off the coast of Britanny, France. That shipwreck released about 30,000 tons of crude oil, much of which polluted nearby French beaches, over a 300-mile-wide region.
While a special audit of the Erika wreck has not been completed, the IACS council said it endorsed proposals made earlier this year for ship-classification societies ''to tighten the safety net for older ships, with the aim of eliminating substandard vessels.''
In general, the council found that the IACS' ''internal quality system is basically sound.'' That system checks on the performance of individual ship-classification societies. But the council said it would introduce a new quality management review that will look into ''the performance of individual societies and the adequacy of the classification scheme in general.''
The goal of that review, the IACS statement said, ''is to achieve uniformly high quality standards among all IACS members with respect to all types of ships and flags.''