CLASSIFICATION giant Lloyd’s Register has come to the rescue of the ailing Hellenic Registry of Shipping with a co-operation agreement intended to rehabilitate internal standards and procedures at the Greek society.
The move follows the expiration of Hellenic’s European Union recognition at the end of August after management was instructed to rectify a series of “serious shortcomings”, including a lack of quality control.
Without EU recognition, Hellenic has been left unable to provide statutory services to shipowners. The new agreement to draft in external help from Lloyd’s Register is an attempt to upgrade their flawed standards to a point where they will be allowed to resume a normal service to their remaining clients at some point in the future. It is also understood that Hellenic will eventually reapply for EU recognition once Lloyd’s Register has been able to improve standards.
Lloyd’s Register’s Greek subsidiary, Hellenic Lloyd’s, formally agreed the deal with Hellenic today to assist in developing their capability to manage the Greek water passenger ship and small craft sector.
According to Lloyd’s Register, a key element of the co-operation is the emphasis on the Greek domestic shipping activity and the need to upgrade the safety standards in Greece’s critical marine infrastructure.
A joint statement issued by the two class societies today said the agreement would also strengthen the technical support available to the Greek shipping industry.
“This collaboration with Hellenic Register is in response to a call for help from the Greek maritime community to upgrade the safety and quality within this crucial sector,” said Lloyd’s Register chief executive .
Hellenic has been in trouble for some time now and this latest deal to resolve internal problems stems from the decision by the European Commission to withdraw recognition of Hellenic as a Recognised Organisation on August 30.
Since then the class society has been unable class or issue international certification for vessels over 500 gt engaged in international voyages. It has also been unable to class passenger vessels carrying more than 12 passengers in domestic voyages.
The decision to pull recognition only came after a lengthy process of attempts by the European Commission to ensure that “corrective measures” to Hellenic’s substandard control mechanisms were rectified.
Hellenic failed to meet the EU requirements, but it has just received a boost from a six-month Greek government extension for the domestic validity of existing certificates.
While the government had initially decided to revoke validity by end-February 2011, a six-month extension signed by the ministry of Maritime Affairs will reprieve 28 ships that were operating under temporary certificates that would otherwise have expired at the end of last month, as well as extending recognition of other HRS papers up until their stamped expiry date, but no later than August 30 next year.
If the previous government decision had stood, hundreds of mainly small vessels may have needed recertifying and in many cases reclassifying before next March.
According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data, however Hellenic Register still had 182 vessels on its books last month, representing a fleet of 439,430 dwt.
According to Lloyd’s Register, the new co-operation agreement represents a commitment “to significantly improve its operational performance, quality assurance and safety standards in line with its tradition which dates back to 1919 when it was founded by the Greek government”.
In order to realise these goals, Hellenic Register will be relying on Hellenic Lloyd to improve its management systems, operational processes and instigate a programme of training, development and monitoring for both technical and support staff.
“With the signing of this important agreement with Hellenic Lloyd’s, we are aiming to utilise the vast technical expertise and leading position of Lloyds Register in classification and certification worldwide in order to ensure the sustainability of the Hellenic Registry of Shipping,” Hellenic vice-president George Vernicos said in a statement issued to Lloyd’s List.
“HRS in this way is responding to the ever-increasing requirements and pressures facing our industry in terms of complexity, quality and reliability”.