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June 16, 2005

Tanker owners welcome new IACS common rules

Tanker owners, among others, are breathing a collective sigh of relief that members of the International Association of Classification Societies have now agreed that new Common Structural Rules for tankers and for bulk carriers will be adopted by all IACS members.

A statement issued by INTERTANKO--the International Association of Independent Tanker owners--says the new rules are "an important evolution in newbuilding standards--though they are not a revolution."

"The real benefit of the Common Rules," says INTERTANKO, "is the removal of rule competition between class societies. As class societies have competed for market share, accommodating pressure from shipyards to minimize steel weight and pressure from owners to achieve lower costs, so design margins have been eroded and so a greater focus has been placed on maintenance procedures. This process has brought about a loss of trust in the class system, with increasing concerns being expressed by the regulators over structural integrity, and ultimately challenges to the function of class societies."

INTERTANKO says that more than five years ago it played a major role in calling for common rules, and has since been actively involved with the class societies, and with three-way talks between shipowners, shipbuilders and class, to help transform these important changes from theory into reality.

The implementation date of the new Common Rules will be April 1,2006.

"Three months' delay is a small price to pay for the welcome decision to replace the Joint Tanker Project and the Joint Bulker Project with IACS Common Rules," says INTERTANKO's Technical Director Dragos Rauta. We understand that between now and then the class societies will continue to work on harmonizing various design assumptions that will apply to the new rules. INTERTANKO encourages IACS members to adhere to the timetable that they have agreed."

"These new Common Rules will help boost confidence in the whole system of ship design and construction, and in the classification societies themselves," says INTERTANKO Managing Director Dr Peter Swift. "We are delighted with this outcome, and are pleased to have been able to contribute significantly to bringing it about."

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