GMBA’s Oscar Siches on superyacht rules and regulations
Oscar Siches of Global Marine Business Advisors (GMBA) sheds light on large yacht certifications, the main classification organisations and other yachting bodies.
When we see ‘Lloyd’s’ in any boat or ship documentation, images arise of engineers wearing helmets and contorting themselves in cramped places within ship’s bilges or a yacht’s engine room – and this association is fair. Lloyd’s is the oldest marine classification society, assuring quality in the design, construction and maintenance of a vessel.
To confirm, Lloyd’s Register does not have any connections with Lloyd’s insurance and Lloyds Bank, although it does share some history with Lloyd’s List shipping intelligence. In London almost 300 years ago, Edward Lloyd was the owner of Lloyd’s coffee house on Lombard Street, where ship owners and insurers got together to exchange news about their ships. In 1734, Lloyd circulated a sheet with all the shipping news he had, which would become the Lloyd’s List.
In 1760, he and his customers created the Register of Shipping, where all events of each ship were recorded to evaluate risk and provide information about the condition of the vessel. Through various changes of protocol and of the organisation itself, it became the Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (LR) in 1914. Ships were qualified by quality of hull (with a letter) and quality of mast, rigging and other equipment (with a number).
As an example, a ship or boat qualified as Lloyd’s
✠ 100 A1 LMC today means:
✠ New ship built under special survey in compliance with LR rules
100 Suitable for sea-going service
A Hull built or accepted into class by LR rules and maintained in good and efficient condition
1 Good and efficient condition of anchoring and mooring equipment as per LR rules
LMC Propelling and auxiliary machinery constructed, installed and tested under LR rules
Most other classification societies started in the 19th century, copied the concept, and the protocols are similar. Lloyd’s is the toughest, which often means it can be more expensive to fulfil their requirements, and some users prefer their yachts to be qualified by other societies that are ‘softer’ in their conditioning, while always respecting safety and quality.
Examples of this can be the time between full inspections or the wear allowed for the links in an anchor chain. But Lloyd’s is still Lloyd’s, recognised everywhere and the one calling the shots. IACS (International Association of Classification Societies) is constantly trying to harmonise the classification terms.
The 12 current members are American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Bureau Veritas (France), China Classification Society (CCS), ClassNK (Japan), Croatian Register of Shipping (CRS), DNV (Norway), Indian Register of Shipping, Korean Register, Lloyd’s Register (UK), PRS (Poland),
RINA (Italy) and Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.
Most classification societies created a special yacht department to deal with the recreational marine sector, where UK-based Lloyd’s and US-based ABS together share more than 60 per cent of the international large yacht fleet.
Lloyd’s Register class has been issued to boats (ships) larger than 24m or 100GT since the 1970s. GT is a cargo (space) volume calculation and should not be mistaken for displacement, which is the weight (mass) of the boat. For example, a rectangular barge with a length of 50m, a 10m beam and a height of 4m would have a volume of 2,000 cubic metres.
Allowing for 100 cubic metres of machinery and crew space, its remaining volume would measure 1,900GT, the space dedicated to ‘cargo’. The exact formula is a little more complicated, but this should explain the basic concept.
SUPERYACHTS AND MEGAYACHTS
Over a decade ago, the aim of an ICOMIA (International Council of Marine Industry Associations) meeting in Fort Lauderdale was to establish an international agreement on what was a ‘superyacht’ and what was a ‘megayacht’.
A load-line length of 24m was the agreed size to establish the start of the superyacht category. It was easy as some countries already used that measurement to define skipper licensing or areas
Building a yacht above 24m affects various issues including using certified welders for constructing the hull, stability requirements, shaft material and diameter, fuel tanks, feeding pipes and vents. There is little room to ‘cut corners’ on technical design quality and building standards, which affects design and construction costs. The actual classification process is a small cost when embedded from the outset of the project.
However, defining a megayacht was a bit more difficult, with 60m (200ft) viewed as a reasonable starting point. However, in the USA, it’s still common to call a yacht of over 60m a superyacht, while across whole of Europe, 24m is viewed as the starting point for such yachts.
To complicate things further, The Superyacht Report, as the leading source for large-yacht news, published their large yacht fleet data starting from 30m (100ft). Due to the list’s popularity, lots of people associate superyachts as starting from 30m. The inconsistency of the definition remains to this day. No global body has managed to make a standard prevail and be globally accepted.
Aside from classification societies, I’d like to highlight some other organisations relevant to yachts. MARPOL (‘Maritime Pollution’) is The International Convention for the prevention of Pollution from Ships and is under the IMO (International Maritime Organization), a body formed by 174 countries, 80 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and 74 GOs (governmental organizations).
MARPOL started in 1973 and entered into force in 1983. It is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. MARPOL covers possible pollution under six annexes: oil, noxious liquid substances in bulk, packaged harmful substances, sewage from ships, garbage from ships, and air pollution from ships.
A misconception is that MARPOL only applies to big ships or large yachts. This is not the case. MARPOL applies to every ship or craft on the water, whether it’s a small rowing boat or a supertanker. Pollution is pollution.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime treaty which sets minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships. The convention requires signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with these standards.
The first version of SOLAS Treaty was passed in 1914 in response to the sinking of the Titanic passenger liner. Yachts must comply with SOLAS chapter V independent of size or tonnage.
SOLAS Chapter V: Safety of Navigation:
This chapter requires governments to ensure that all vessels are sufficiently and efficiently manned from a safety point of view. It places requirements on all vessels regarding voyage and passage planning, expecting a careful assessment of any proposed voyages by all who put to sea. Every mariner must take account of all potential dangers to navigation, weather forecasts, tidal predictions, the competence of the crew and all other relevant factors. It also adds an obligation for all vessels’ masters to offer assistance to those in distress and controls the use of lifesaving signals with specific requirements regarding danger and distress messages. It is different from the other chapters, which apply to certain classes of commercial shipping, in that these requirements apply to all vessels and their crews, including yachts and private craft, on all voyages and trips including local ones.
All other SOLAS regulations apply to commercial yachts over 12 passengers and yachts over 500GT (+/-50m/180ft). The 500GT SOLAS compliance is like a classification but concentrates on safety issues of human life at sea. A yacht over 500GT can’t use wood over a certain thickness within the guest or crew accommodation.
Fire prevention and fighting systems are specified, and GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) must be implemented, with increased provisions and regulations for radio systems, electronic emergency call devices, liferafts, life jackets, other safety floating devices and so on. SOLAS-approved equipment can be easily identified with a small rudder wheel mark.
International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) is part of SOLAS and compulsory for any yacht over 500GT and its flag. ISPS is a safety protocol both for the yacht and for the harbour, which should adjust the security levels accordingly. A yacht with a lower security level should increase it (eg. by posting more crew on watch).
A harbour with a lower security level should act accordingly (eg. by creating a fenced perimeter around the quay where the yacht is tied up). Each ISPS harbour and yacht must have a security officer within their crew or personnel who is responsible for the adequate set-up of the security measures.
The International Safety Management (ISM) Code was triggered by the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry in 1987. The accident was the result of a sum of onboard actions that were neglected or incorrectly executed.
ISM takes care of procedures for conducting both internal and external audits to ensure the ship is doing what is documented in the procedure’s manual. That includes but is not limited to crew training, periods of watches, maintenance, certification of safety equipment or regular management reviews.
Finally, if you’d like a compact summary of such regulations, download Manta Maritime’s ‘The rules and regulations applicable to yachts over 24m in length + engaged on international voyages’: www.mantamaritime.com/downloads/compliance_chart.pdf
OSCAR SICHES, CMP
With a background in navy school, offshore racing and cruising, Siches has broad experience in the boating industry, having skippered sail and power yachts in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean for private and charter clients. Born in Argentina and based in Spain, he was a partner and manager of two marinas in Palma de Mallorca. He’s now a consultant for the design and operation of marina projects and a designer of customised marina elements, and has been a speaker at more than 30 marina conferences in 12 countries.
A Certified Marina Manager and Certified Marina Professional, he is also a member of ICOMIA’s Marinas Committee and the PIANC Recreational Navigation Commission, Convenor of ISO/TC 228 Working Group 8 – Yacht Harbours and a founding member of the Asia Pacific Superyacht Association (APSA) and the Global Marina Institute, where he was Director for six years. He’s also one of the founding members of the Global Marine Business Advisors (GMBA), a network of 18 industry senior experts located in 17 countries across five continents available individually or in teams to help expand marine-related businesses.
Global Marine Business Advisors marks its one-year anniversary with an expanded network of members in 17 countries in five continents.