3.3.2 Frequency of classification surveys
The frequency of classification surveys varies from Society to Society but, by way of example, Lloyd's Register's Rules and Regulations for the Classification of Ships prescribe the following intervals:
· Hull and machinery special survey: five years.
· Dry-docking survey: three years (two to be held in each five-year period).
· Hull and machinery annual survey: one year.
· Tail-shaft survey: five years.
· Internal boiler survey: three years (two to be held in each five-year period).
The rules of the major Classification Societies require each entered ship to undergo a complete survey of her machinery every five years. However, such a survey could be both commercially inconvenient (usually it would involve the ship being taken out of service for several days) and expensive. It is therefore common for shipowners to request that their ships be placed on a continuous survey cycle for machinery. Where such a request is accepted by the ship's Classification Society, the result will be that instead of one complete survey at the end of every five years, the Society will agree to a programme of rolling surveys. The rolling survey programme is designed to ensure that within each successive 12-month period from the inception of the programme, approximately one fifth of the ship's machinery will be surveyed by the Society's surveyors.
By way of illustration, regulation 3.5.19 in Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Lloyd's Register's rules states:
“When, at the request of an Owner it has been agreed by the Committee that the Complete Survey of the machinery may be carried out on the Continuous Survey basis, the various items of machinery are to be opened for survey in rotation, so far as practicable, to ensure that the interval between consecutive examinations of each item will not exceed five years. In general, approximately one-fifth of the machinery is to be examined each year.”
3.3.3 Suspension or withdrawal of class
If a shipowner fails to comply with repair work requirements or other requirements issued by its Classification Society, or if a shipowner otherwise contravenes class rules, the Classification Society could decide either to suspend or to withdraw (meaning cancel) the ship's classification with immediate effect or after a specified period of time. In general, Classification Society rules do not provide for automatic suspension or withdrawal of class. It is necessary to differentiate between a contravention of class rules or requirements that results in the classification status of a ship becoming irregular and the suspension or withdrawal of a ship's classification. In general an offending ship will keep its formal (or “paper”) class until the classification has been suspended or withdrawn according to an express decision of the Classification Society in question.
Any adverse change in the classification status of a ship could have serious consequences for the ship owner. Such a change could:
· mean that the ship is non-compliant with the requirements of its flag state (see section 3.4 below);
· result in the automatic termination of the ship's insurance cover;
· entitle the ship's financiers to demand immediate repayment of a loan secured
· against the ship and to enforce their security over the ship; and
· render the ship ineligible for most chartering and other trading activities.