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January 31, 2003

IACS completes Prestige audit
On November 22, 2002 ABS lodged a formal request with the Council of the International Association of Classifications Socities (IACS) It asked the Council to direct the IACS Quality Secretary to undertake a Vertical Contract Audit of all ABS records relating to the tanker Prestige.

The vessel sank off the Spanish coast on Tuesday, November 19, 2002, after suffering flooding from an as-yet-undetermined initiating cause and being denied access to a sheltered area of refuge by the Spanish government.

The IACS Quality Committee today (Friday, January 31, 2003) formally presented to IACS Council its final report on the ad hoc audit of ABS survey procedures as they relate to the loss of the Prestige. You can download the report here.

IACS Council will now assess the findings contained in the report. An IACS press release says "Council is not aware of any so-called 'loopholes' in the relevant requirements that would compromise the effectiveness of a field survey.

The audit was conducted by the IACS Quality Secretary supported, as needed, by two senior, experienced IACS auditors. At the request of ABS, IACS agreed that observers from the IMO, the European Union, the Bahamas Maritime Administration and Intertanko accompany the auditors.

The audit team visited the ABS Headquarters, and the shipyards and ABS offices in Dubai and China that conducted the previous annual and special surveys respectively on the vessel.

In addition to a comprehensive review of all files and documentation relating to these surveys, the audit team also interviewed the attending surveyors and, where appropriate, shipyard personnel. The terms of reference that governed the IACS Quality audit were threefold.

They were to establish whether or not the Prestige was surveyed by ABS in accordance with the Rules and Regulations and with the statutory requirements and International Conventions related to the Certificates issued by ABS on behalf of the Flag Administration.

Second, the audit was to establish whether or not ABS complied with the IACS Quality System Certification Scheme requirements, reference documents, IACS Code of Ethics and Procedural Requirements during the preparation and performance of the surveys.

Third, the auditors were to recommend to IACS Council any changes that need to be made to current established practices of maintaining existing oil tankers in class, with the object of furthering IACS' stated commitment to safety of life at sea and the protection of the environment.

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