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Encyclopedia of Marine and Energy Technology

Classification societies


Usually non-profit organizations originally introduced to protect the interests of shipowners and cargo owners and their insurers to ensure that the ship and its cargo will safely reach their destination. Among the most important are Lloyd’ s Register of Shipping, Det norske Veritas, the American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, Registro Italiano Navale and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai.

See also International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).

The origins of the classification society date back to the middle of the 18th century. World trade was the almost entirely dependent on shipping. The technology available was very basic, and there were no controls on the condition of merchant ships – many of which were in poor condition and frequently overloaded. As a result of the high number of losses of ships and cargoes, many of those financing the shipping business, particularly the insurers, agreed that there was a need to establish objective safety criteria and regular inspections to reduce the frequency of shipwrecks.