MARINA lifts moratorium on accreditation of ship classification bodies

  • The Maritime Industry Authority lifted the moratorium on accreditation of ship classification societies from February 9, 2022 to May 10, 2022
  • The development means the entry of more classification societies to classify ships in the domestic trade

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has lifted the moratorium on the accreditation of ship classification societies for three months, effectively allowing the entry of more societies to classify ships in the domestic trade.

The development was welcomed by Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association (PISA) executive director Atty. Pedro Aguilar. He told PortCalls in a phone interview, however, that the three-month period may not be enough time to work on an accreditation application. This, he said, is based on the experience of some classification societies whose applications were deemed denied last year when the period for application ended after October 16, 2021. Aguilar said he plans to request MARINA to clarify if such denied applications may be reactivated.

Under MARINA Advisory (MA) No. 2022-09 dated February 4, MARINA administrator Robert Empedrad said the moratorium on the application for Certificate of Accreditation (COA) as local classification authority is lifted from February 9, 2022 to May 10, 2022.

The agency under MA 2021-08 earlier suspended the accreditation of classification societies after the date of effectivity of MARINA Circular (MC) No. MS-2020-01 ended on October 16, 2021.

MC MS-2020-01 contains revised rules on accrediting classification societies and entities for the purpose of classification of ships in the domestic trade. Its aim is to enhance the accreditation of local classification societies and monitor their performance to ensure safe operation of domestic ships.

During MC MS-2020-01’s one-year period of implementation until October 16, 2021, MARINA only accredited three International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) members. No local classification society was able to secure accreditation.

PISA member Philippine Liner Shipping Association in January had requested the lifting of the moratorium to allow more classification societies to become accredited.

Aguilar said ship classification is a requirement by protection and indemnity (P&I) coverage clubs or by some companies, including those in petroleum sector.

In addition, many domestic shipping vessels, particularly the old ones, Aguilar said, are accredited by local classification societies, which were not able to secure accreditation with MARINA. While shipping lines may transfer from a local classification to an international classification, he said, this may be difficult and costly especially for old vessels.

Another option is for ships to undergo an additional ship survey by MARINA to secure a Ship Survey Certificate (SSC), as advised by MA 2021-62. Aguilar noted, however, that MARINA may have to issue a memo stating that the SSC is equivalent to a local classification so P&I coverage clubs and clients requiring classification will honor the certificate. – Roumina Pablo