Ship Classification, as a minimum, is to be regarded as the development and worldwide implementation of published Rules and/or Regulations which will provide for:
- the structural strength of (and where necessary the watertight integrity of) all essential parts of the hull and its appendages,
- the safety and reliability of the propulsion and steering systems, and those other features and auxiliary systems which have been built into the ship in order to establish and maintain basic conditions on board,
thereby enabling the ship to operate in its intended service.
The achievement of these goals is conditional upon continued compliance with the Rules and/or Regulations and proper care and conduct on the part of the Owner and Operator.
- A ship built in accordance with a Member Society's Rules and/or Regulations, or in accordance with requirements equivalent thereto, and fulfilling the applicable stability requirements will be assigned a class in the Register Book of the Society. For ships in service, each Member Society maintains the provisions of class by way of periodical visits by its Surveyors to the ship as defined in its Rules and/or Regulations in order to ascertain that the ship currently complies with those Rules and/or Regulations. Should significant defects become apparent or damages be sustained between the relevant visits by the Surveyors, the Owner and Operator are required to inform the Society concerned without delay. Similarly any modification which would affect Class must receive prior approval by the Society.
- A ship is said to be in Class when the Rules and/or Regulations which pertain to it have, in the opinion of the Society concerned, been complied with.
Individual Societies to explain by an additional note as to how they deal with items, either statutory or class, beyond the basic definition.
Major Classification Societies recognised world wide are:
- American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
- Bureau Veritas
- Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (class NK)
- China Classification Society (CCS)
- Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
- Germanischer Lloyd
- Indian Register of Shipping (IRS)
- Korean Register of Shipping (KR)
- Lloyd's Register (LR)
- Registro Italiano Navale Group (RINA)