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Old 11-07-2015, 03:40 AM   #1
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ABS Classification - Advantages/Disadvantages

Although our 50ft steel trawler is being designed to ABS (hull and machinery) we are still considering the pros and cons of having it classed: some signification costs during construction phase, peace of mind that the builder isn't cheating, costs for the annual surveys needed to maintain classification, moderate savings on insurance, possibly slightly better resale (when that time comes in the far, far future), etc.

From a dollars point of view I really can't see any significant advantages.

Is anyone out there maintaining classification or seriously considered this subject for their own boats?
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Old 11-07-2015, 06:26 AM   #2
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A society classification is good insurance when the boat is newbuilt , esp a custom boat.

You would be shocked at the number of folks that accept a new production boat , with out a survey!

I would get the initial certificate and not bother with the annuals ,

unless the boat will be soon sold., or placed in charter or passenger service.
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Old 11-07-2015, 06:56 AM   #3
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Professionally, ABS is not the only society available. Personally I think they all have loopholes and myopic inspectors who make renewals irrelevant. Probably the best aspect is resale value of a vessel in class. Other people put WAY too much import on this as a litmus test of quality.
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Old 11-07-2015, 08:43 AM   #4
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ABS only classes boats over 79' in length. You can build "to class" but ABS won't actually class it.
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Old 11-07-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OkSkipper
You can build "to class" but ABS won't actually class it.
Excellent point and reminder.
Lots of builders have advertised "built to ABS standards."
A lot of the time it is no more meaningful than the café that brags "the best muffins in America."
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Old 11-07-2015, 11:57 AM   #6
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I see a few things to be gained. First, if the intent is at some point to charter, then it's a plus to class up front. Second, mild savings perhaps on insurance. Third, it a new build it gives a very clear accept/reject level. If the contract calls for classification as a requirement, then it must pass before delivery...in theory. The problem is I've seen contracts that required it, the boat didn't pass, the builder had the money, still insisted on delivery, the buyer took it and ended up suing and won. (Marlow-Kakawi) Certainly that it didn't pass class as required in the contract and in all the builder's advertisements was a strong factor in the judgement.

I'm personally not familiar with a 50' being classed. However, it is my understanding that certain flag states require any vessel to be classed. Built to ABS standards as a requirement, would still give your surveyor something to hold to, if you had a surveyor who did class surveys and we went through all the steps. However, as pointed out above, it means nothing if just a builder's representation and not being verified by a class surveyor. Which brings us to what we consider most important, survey of a new boat. That starts with the start of the build however, in my mind, not just completion. It's periodic and regular inspections of the entire process, your representative during construction, to protect your interests. Class standards also include some things not included in ordinary surveys. Perhaps stability, deadweight and inclining, is the most important. Think Northern Marine and Baden.

There are many classification societies. The only three I have direct knowledge of are ABS, Lloyd's and Bureau Veritas. I am familiar with many boats also RINA classed as they're the Italian organization. The others are China, Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, Korea, India, Nippon, and Russia. Those you see primarily in their countries. There are another 40 classification societies but they aren't part of IACS.

With a larger boat the insurer is going to require a fairly extensive survey anyway, so the amount classification adds to the cost isn't as great. Classification was started by the insurance industry, as people like Lloyd's realized they didn't know enough to decide whether to insure or not. SOLAS also has recognized the role of Class.

I think classification becomes more important to a recreational boater when it's a custom build or even a semi-custom or when it's a new model in a production builder's line.

Also, when getting a surveyor for a new boat build, the fact it is a surveyor whose work the Class society accepts on a regular basis I think is a positive. There are a lot of surveyors experienced at purchase surveys and insurance surveys of completed boats but lacking experience in new builds.

Ultimately on a new build then, I'd want a Class Qualified Surveyor doing the survey and going through all the class steps. If I'm going to do that, I might as well go on and get it classed.

Also, note the word classification. That means suitability for particular classes of use. It's not simply one standard. It's determining if the boat is suitable for the class of use.
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Old 11-07-2015, 12:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OkSkipper View Post
ABS only classes boats over 79' in length. You can build "to class" but ABS won't actually class it.
My shipyard was definitely talking about inspections during construction, so perhaps what they were referring to was an ABS "Hull Certificate"?
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Old 11-08-2015, 11:32 PM   #8
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Im not sure if it applies to ABS but a few years ago I was involved in a few boats built to BV rules but not classed.

We still had to get all of the design approvals from BV in advance along with the onsite inspections but if I remember right the cost savings on a 95 was about a hundred thousand per boat.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:39 AM   #9
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Im not sure if it applies to ABS but a few years ago I was involved in a few boats built to BV rules but not classed.

We still had to get all of the design approvals from BV in advance along with the onsite inspections but if I remember right the cost savings on a 95 was about a hundred thousand per boat.
A boat that wouldn't otherwise be built to the standards and quality of class would cost that much more, could be even higher. However, for a boat that is built to class regardless and that you're already going to get monitored through the process and surveyed at the end, then actually getting it classed is considerably less than that.

Lloyd's gives the advantages of class as:
Some main reasons are:-

• It ensures the maintenance of the
standard and can facilitate the
following:

i) insurance (ship and cargo)
ii) chartering
iii) sale and purchase
iv) financing
v) issue of Statutory
certificates required by
International Conventions

• The benefit of expert advice and
fast service to shipowners on a
worldwide basis, 24 hours a day, 365
days of the yea
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Old 11-15-2015, 04:08 AM   #10
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ABS only classes boats over 79' in length. You can build "to class" but ABS won't actually class it.
Upon reviewing the documents from eagle.org website it does state that 79' is the minimum length to obtain classification. However, I'm in touch with the local ABS office and they state that they will class personal vessels under 50'. I'm awaiting more information to clarify this.
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Old 11-18-2015, 05:58 AM   #11
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Upon reviewing the documents from eagle.org website it does state that 79' is the minimum length to obtain classification. However, I'm in touch with the local ABS office and they state that they will class personal vessels under 50'. I'm awaiting more information to clarify this.
ABS just clarified. They will class commercial vessels under 79' but not recreational vesses. They do offer however consultation and will perform surveys and inspections.
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Old 11-18-2015, 02:14 PM   #12
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That is what we found recently when investigating ABS classification for a 75' Northwest. I think if you will find will be far more cost effective to hire a qualified independent inspector/surveyor than having ABS involved. Steve D'Antonio is one who I would recommend. He conducted the inspections for one of our customers on a 50' project. He was extremely thorough.
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