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Thursday, July 25, 2019 

DNV GL recently met with the Marshall Islands Registry to discuss modernising the relationship between flag and class.

Both agree that the main objective of digital class should be to reduce the workload and save money, while ensuring safety and integrity. International Registries, Inc (IRI), which provides administrative and technical support to the Registry, foresees remote and digital services progressing at a quick pace: “Digital services will be a big part of solutions for the future. The first role of the flag is to be responsible for ships operating in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner,”

While the Marshall Islands Registry (RMI) liaises with all 12 IACS members, DNV GL classes roughly 25% of its fleet. “Class is seen as a key resource on technical issues, but the flag also has technical and operational expertise,” said Simon Bonnett, IRI’s SVP, Technical. “Part of our responsibility is to have expertise on each vessel in our fleet. We are also responsible for rules governing seafarers’ qualifications, among other things for determining the minimum safe manning.”

Ramage notes that a few remaining Port State Control offices have been reluctant to accept e-certificates. “IMO would have to mandate their use in order for all stakeholders to comply, but some states simply lack digital infrastructure in all their ports. Until this is resolved, ships will be dependent on paper in these ports.”

Dave Wamsley, RMI’s principal contact for DNV GL, pointd out the potential benefits of sharing data on a platform such as DNV GL’s Veracity. “We work with many ROs, but Veracity has been very impressive. Sharing the data that can be shared between flag and class will improve the efficiency of oversight functions. We wouldn’t have to go back and request information like we do today. We could see vessel status and retrieve reports. All the everyday information we require would be accessible. It’s about more than compliance, we want to share quality across the board, and I believe the industry is heading in that direction.”

Walmsley added: “I think electronic logbooks are next in line. The present system demands huge time and effort from the officers, and it can have expensive repercussions if it is done wrong.” MARPOL routines will have to be revised in order to allow electronic record-keeping, he notes.

"Technology is pressing regulatory bodies to move forward. In my opinion, more has happened in this field in the last five years than in the last 25. Shipping cannot be called a conservative industry any longer, said Walmsley.

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