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Russian Fleet Manager Signs Up To Hull Integrity Service

by Lorys Charalambous, for, Cyprus

06 September 2006

Independent risk management organisation Lloyd's Register announced last week that Unicom Management Services (Cyprus) Ltd (Unicom), the ship management arm of Russian national shipowner Sovcomflot, has become the first tanker operator to sign up multiple ships to Lloyd's Register's new Hull Integrity service.

Unicom has enrolled 17 of its tankers in Hull Integrity, from its 'Bridge' class and 'Sea' class fleets. Both series of ships are 47,000 dwt product and chemical carriers. The deal was sealed following the launch of Hull Integrity at the Posidonia exhibition in Piraeus, Greece in June.

Hull Integrity helps owners and operators to manage their vessels' hull structural integrity. The service comprises three key elements which enable a ship's crew to undertake hull inspections in a systematic and auditable manner:

  • training in how to carry out inspections
  • ship-specific hull inspection guides
  • Hull Integrity software for recording and analysis.

"We are delighted that a leading ship manager has endorsed our Hull Integrity service," says Alan Gavin, Marine Director, Lloyd's Register. "Unicom has recognised the importance of sound hull integrity management to the efficiency of its operations and the safety of its seafarers."

Bob Thompson, Deputy Managing Director, Unicom adds: "We believe that Hull Integrity will deliver great value and safety benefits. At a time when ship managers are working to implement the principles of TMSA [Tanker Management Self Assessment], our use of Lloyd's Register's Hull Integrity service will clearly demonstrate that we take structural integrity, crew training and safety seriously in an auditable and transparent manner."

The Hull Integrity service is applicable to all ship types and is not a class requirement, so it can be used by owners and operators of ships not classed by Lloyd's Register. The advantages of the service are most immediately apparent for operators of tankers and LNG vessels, due to the regulatory and commercial third-party requirements that they face. Unicom's implementation clearly displays a concerted effort towards continual improvement, a core principle of TMSA and other quality systems such as ISM and ISO. It demonstrates a desire to satisfy the highest levels of TMSA and best practice in numerous elements of OCIMF's guide including:

  • recruitment and management of ship's staff;
  • reliability and maintenance standards;
  • cargo ballast and mooring operations; and
  • measurement analysis and improvement.

The combination of these factors culminates in the provision of financial benefits to shipowners in terms of reduced unplanned downtime and reduction in lost charter days, says Lloyds Register.

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