A Class balancing act

McFarlane ShipDesign
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How can we develop and share a better understanding of roles and become more transparent and efficient?

During the build of a superyacht, classification societies are required to perform a precarious balancing act. They risk becoming vulnerable in their decision making, or less diligent in their role, by trying to keep all parties involved in the build process happy – be it for financial considerations, or simply as an attempt to mediate a situation in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. That being said, there can be no indecision or compromise when it comes to the rules. It is, or, it isn’t!

Everyone in the game is rubbing shoulders with each other on a regular basis in an effort to achieve a positive end result for the owner of the vessel, who, as well as being the owner of an expensive seafaring asset, is an investor in, and a patron of, the industry that keeps us all gainfully employed.

The aim is simple. At the end of the day we have to produce a vessel that is compliant with the specification and class rules whilst fulfilling the owner’s expectations. Classification societies walk this fine line every day in shipyards all around the world. In most cases, during the construction of a vessel, the class surveyor is responsible to the shipyard and access to the class surveyor is via the client - the client being the shipyard.

Any questions the owner’s team may have on a class-related issue must be first passed to the shipyard. It then gets filtered and the shipyard speaks with the class surveyor in an effort to find an answer or a solution to satisfy the owner’s team.

Once the vessel is completed, however, and ownership of the vessel is transferred to the owner, the class surveyor then changes his hat and is responsible to the owner's team. It is a hard line to walk and stay in balance.

During this year's The Superyacht Forum, a panel of speakers from key areas of the industry, moderated by Martin Redmayne, Chairman of The Superyacht Group, will openly discuss how the relationship between flag states, classification societies, ship builders and the owner's team can have a profound effect on the end product. The topic needs open dialogue so that we can develop and share a better understanding of the role of each member in the circle and what the various parties involved can do to become more transparent and effective.

Terry Allen, technical director of McFarlane ShipDesign, introduces the question of roles and responsibilities.

Terry Allen, technical director of McFarlane ShipDesign, introduces the question of roles and responsibilities.