The origins of Nippon Kaiji Kyokai date from the foundation in November 1899 of the Teikoku Kaiji Kyokai (the Imperial Marine Association) in Tokyo, which was established in order to promote the regulation and development of the shipping and shipbuilding industries in Japan. The early years of the Society were spent promoting a wide range of shipping-related activities, very different from the focused technical role that ClassNK plays today.
The first ship to receive a class certificate from the then TKK was the Kwanan Maru in 1920. In 1926, the Society's class notation, NS*, was formally registered in the classification clause of the Institute of London Underwriters, amounting to recognition of TKK's existence as an internationally active classification society. In the inter-war years, TKK recieved support from, and co-operated with, the British Corporation Register of Shipping (later to merge with Lloyd's Register) and other societies. By 1929, the Society had reached 1 million gross tons of ships under class.
The Society was in relaunched under its current name, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (the Japan Marine Association), in 1946 in the aftermath of World War Two. From a state of near complete destruction, the Japanese Shipping and Shipbuilding industries recovered gradually and then grew rapidly in strength, with the Society called upon to survey a large number and wide range of different vessel types over the years. The Society's Register of Ships had exceeded 10 million gross tons by 1963, and 100 million gross tons by the end of 1997. Today, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai has more than 6,500 vessels totalling over 104 million gross tons under class.
Reflecting the internationalization of both the shipping industry and the Society itself, a significant percentage of today's NK-classed ships are controlled by non-Japanese companies and shipowners, supported by a growing network of exclusive survey offices across the world and a system of national and technical committees. Following the establishment of offices in London and New York in 1962, the Society spread rapidly and now has exclusive survey offices in more than 80 locations, representation in all major ports and over 950 permanent staff.
Nippon Kaiji Kyokai was a founder member of IACS, the International Association of Classification Societies, which was established in 1968 to represent the major national class societies and promote international initiatives and cooperation over ship safety. The Society has twice held the Chairmanship of IACS, and is due to do so again in the year 2000. ClassNK, as it has called itself since 1992, also contributes to the common good through research into matters of maritime safety and by retaining a major database of technical information.
As it was in its earliest days, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai today remains a 3rd party, not-for-profit foundation, committed to the safety of life and property at sea, and the prevention of marine pollution.The date of the 100th Anniversary itself is 15 November 1999.
Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, known as ClassNK or NK, has earned a solid reputation for its long-standing dedication to safeguarding life and property at sea and preventing marine pollution through the establishment of universally recognized standards for the design, construction and maintenance of ships and other marine structures.
ClassNK is a ship classification society. The principal work of the Society's expert technical staff is to undertake surveys to ensure that the rules which it has developed are applied to newbuildings and existing ships to ensure the safety of the vessels. The rules cover not only hull structures, but also safety equipment, cargo handling gear, engines, machinery, and electrical and electronic systems. ClassNK's surveyors work in shipbuilding and repair yards and at ports across the world, wherever they may be called upon to examine the condition of a ship.
By the end of Sept. 2000, the Society had 6,432 ships totalling 110.012 million g.t. under class. This figure represents approximately 20 percent of the world merchant fleet which is currently under class. Although based in Japan, ClassNK has worldwide representation through a network of exclusive surveyor offices and work for international clients is steadily increasing in importance. All of the Society's services are available worldwide. (Statistics are here).
In addition to its survey and classification activities (Hull, Machinery and Equipment), ClassNK offers technical services for marine and non-marine construction projects; accommodates requests for appraisals and engineering consultation; conducts research and development in various ship-related fields; provides quality-assurance certification of suppliers based on ISO 9000 series criteria; and verifies the safety management systems of ship-management companies and ships, in accordance with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.