Philippine Register of Shipping, the country’s first and largest classification society, has embarked on a rebranding while expanding its services to support its aim of safer shipping and increase its client base in the growing domestic fleet.
William Hernandez, president of Philippine Register of Shipping (PRS), says the service expansion is to meet the demand from the changing maritime landscape in the Philippines and is a response to the call for safer ships in the country.
Hernandez has noticed growing vessel maintenance demand from the growing vessel tonnage in the domestic shipping market.
The original PRS, which only provided classification services, has now splintered in to two separate companies, namely the PRS Technical Services and PRS Quality Assurance. The Tech Services provides third party inspection for shipowners, shipmanagers, cargo and hull underwriters and P&I Clubs. The Quality Assurance subsidiary renders third party quality assurance certification for ship managers, shipowners and suppliers services and equipment.
According to Hernandez, the nation’s Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has enforced the rules on partition and damage stability requirements for Philippine-registered domestic ships and the imposition outlines the requirements of an IMO SOLAS provisions that are based on the probabilistic concept, using the probability of survival as measured of ships’ safety in a damaged condition. The implementation of its rules required powerful analytic tools to assist MARINA in reviewing the expected hundreds of submissions for approval of probabilistic damage stability calculations from shipping companies.
“There’s a strong push at present to strengthen the maritime safety regime in the Philippines, especially with the re-issuance of a MARINA circular that benchmarks best practices with other maritime nations like Japan and China, which may lead to a Philippine government single class,” says Hernandez. The Southeast Asian nation has one of the poorest maritime safety records in the world.
Hernandez reckons one of the major challenges PRS is facing is the need to reinforce with shipowners the concern of proper maintenance of their vessels, where safety of the ship, cargo, crew and passengers are of paramount importance.
Another challenge, according to Hernandez, is the cutthroat competition that the other domestic classification societies are employing.
“Table-top surveys are being carried out and certificates issued at bargain prices. This means class certificates are being issued without any inspection carried out to determine the actual condition of the vessel. Vessels in a very dismal condition and considered no longer fit for intended purpose are being given full term certificates without any recommendation or any repairs being done,” Hernandez maintains.
Furthermore, Hernandez reckons the flag state should take a firmer action on promulgating its rules that institutionalise two class entities (one is Philippine Government class and the other is the single class for vessels outside the scope of government).
“This is crucial to prevent the unacceptable business practices that the other domestic classification societies are doing,” Hernandez says.
“For the short and medium term goal, PRS wants to achieve its goal to be the single classification society in the Philippines whose standards are on a par with those of IACS. Through this we will also achieve the preferred class status that will ensure the implementation of the safety of the Philippine fleet,” Hernandez concludes.