Efforts to address climate change and move toward sustainability are gaining steam worldwide and, in some cases, the maritime industry is taking the lead on advanced technologies. Recently, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime Administrator (the “Administrator”) had the opportunity to collaborate with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), South Korean shipyard Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) and its parent company Korea Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering (KSOE) on innovative new designs for a liquified carbon dioxide (CO2) carrier.
This six-month joint development project (JDP) between ABS, HMD, KSOE, and the RMI Maritime Administrator to research and develop next-generation liquefied CO2 carrier designs resulted in ABS and the RMI Maritime Administrator issuing an Approval in Principal (AIP) in September 2021. JDPs are projects typically proposed by the shipyards or design houses that address new vessel concepts and technologies, upcoming statutory regulations, and global expectations on the shipping industry to improve safety, security, and environmental practices.
Since opening the Busan, South Korea office in 2017, International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI), which provide administrative and technical support to the RMI Corporate and Maritime Registries, has been asked to participate and consult on a number of JDPs. Since JDPs do not typically include a contracted owner or party, flag States are traditionally not invited to participate in the process. However, IRI’s Busan office and global gas team have taken the lead on industry collaboration, offering technical expertise and experience unlike any other flag State, and working hand-in-hand with the shipyard and Classification Societies (Class) so that once contracted, the project has already received approvals of alternative arrangements from the RMI Maritime Administrator, preventing costly delays and modifications.
“We work directly with the shipyards, designers, and Class to review and consider all possible proposed arrangements before a contract is signed,” said Thomas Blenk, RMI Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs. “For new and advanced technologies like liquified CO2, having flag State approval provides a layer of assurance, and protects against shipyard delays and expensive changes due to unmet statutory requirements.”
The IRI team reviewed and commented on the project against international conventions and the International Code of the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code). Led by the Busan office, the review and study included team members from both IRI’s New York and London offices to ensure that safety and environmental requirements were met.
“IRI Gas Team members come from the gas industry including, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Class, owners/operators, and ship management companies, whereby experience allows for a comprehensive review on any JDP from multiple angles. The Gas Team is also supported by IRI’s 27 offices worldwide, so it is really a global team effort,” Mr. Blenk added.
Many different projects and technologies are being tested worldwide as the shipping industry looks to achieve decarbonization goals. Large scale collaborations, especially those looking at carbon capture and storage, may benefit from the liquified CO2 designs approved by ABS and the RMI Maritime Administrator. Last year, the RMI Registry collaborated with ABS and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) on a JDP to create an environmentally friendly, solvent-free coating for water ballast tanks that only requires one coat. Like the liquified CO2 carriers, the coating required rigorous review and testing from the IRI Technical Team.
“We are supporting Korean shipyards in their domestic and international efforts for decarbonization,” commented Mr. Blenk. “What we learn and implement from these collaborations will benefit the entire world,” he concluded.