The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is an American maritime classification society established in 1862. Its stated mission to promote the security of life, property, and the natural environment, primarily through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine and offshore assets.
ABS's core business is providing global classification services to the marine, offshore, and gas industries. As of 2020, ABS was the second-largest class society with a classed fleet of over 12,000 commercial vessels and offshore facilities. ABS develops its standards and technical specifications, known collectively as the ABS Rules & Guides. These Rules form the basis for assessing the design and construction of new vessels and the integrity of existing vessels and marine structures.
The primary responsibility of ABS as a classification society is to verify that ABS-classed ships and marine structures comply with the established ABS Rules for design, construction, and periodic survey. If a vessel is found not to comply with the Rules, and the recommendations of ABS are not followed, then the society will suspend or cancel classification. ABS Rules are derived from principles of naval architecture, marine engineering, and associated disciplines.
For vessels built to ABS class, ABS engineers must approve the vessel design during engineering review. After design approval, ABS field surveyors attend to the vessel from keel laying to delivery at the shipyard. During the construction of a vessel built to ABS class, surveyors witness the tests of materials for the hull and specific machinery items as required by the Rules. They also survey the building, installation, and testing of the structural and principal mechanical and electrical systems.
Offshore & Energy Services
ABS also develops standards for the design, construction, and operational maintenance of offshore drilling and production units and gas carriers of all types. These standards cover mobile offshore drilling units (such as jackup rigs, semisubmersible rigs, and drill ships), floating offshore production installations (spars, tension leg platforms, semisubmersibles, and FPSOs/FSOs), fixed offshore installations, pipelines, risers, and single point moorings. ABS was responsible for classing the first mobile offshore drilling unit, the first production spar, the first semisubmersible offshore wind turbine and the first offshore support vessel in the Gulf of Mexico to use hybrid power.
ABS also acts as a Recognized Organization on behalf of more than 100 governments. A Recognized Organization is authorized by a flag State to conduct plan review and statutory surveys on ships registered under that flag on behalf of the nation's maritime administration. Typical regulations include the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), SOLAS, MARPOL regulations, and the Load Line Convention. In addition to the national or international tonnage certificates, Panama and Suez Canal tonnage certificates can be issued by ABS on behalf of those authorities.