A positive outlook awaits the Middle East maritime market, based on its potential to provide green energy resources for a decarbonized society, and ClassNK is as always, keeping pace with the upcoming growth of the region.

In his new position as ClassNK’s Middle East and South Asia Regional Manager, Engineer Yoichi Iga is keen to maintain the sound development of future policy and methodology of ClassNK in the region. Talking to Robban Assafina, Engineer Iga highlights the industry’s initiatives toward zero-emissions, through ClassNK’s continuous developments and tools.

First, we would like to congratulate you on your new position. What is your view of the Middle East maritime market?

Thank you very much. It is an honor to serve as Regional Manager covering the Middle East and South Asia. I’m responsible for operating ClassNK offices located in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and UAE. I’m afraid that the unprecedented challenges posed by diseases and wars would remain the negative factors for global and regional economies. 

Nevertheless, I feel the industry players, in the region I have so far had opportunities to meet, look lively and confident in their business. The strength and importance of the region as the energy producer and key route of global trade should be peerless competence and will keep on playing the indispensable role. In the long term, I see a positive outlook based on its potential to provide green energy resources for decarbonized society. Whatever the primary energy source is in the future, renewable energy such as solar and wind power will be essential, and the region’s climate and geography are well suited for them, which has been followed by the substantial investment currently underway.

For many years, you were the General Manager of the Ship Inspection Department, ClassNK head office in Tokyo. How do you evaluate the challenges and solutions that the surveyors face on board ships? and what goals do you seek to achieve through your new position?
We are witnessing a drastic change in the maritime industry driven by digital transformation. New technologies have made us watch and confirm the onboard situation in a different way than it used to be. For the ultimate goal to ensure safety, ClassNK has been willing to uptake them in our operations. While I was a general manager of survey department, the world was under the harsh influence of COVID-19, and physical access to ships was limited. Remote surveys were beneficial in resolving the situation, and I did that by maintaining safety, reliability, and transparency, equivalent to conventional surveys. 

My task at that time included making our surveyors ready to incorporate technology into their expertise in an organized manner. That process should happen in adopting various emerging technologies from now on. Looking back on my career in Singapore, Hamburg, and head office departments in Japan, facing a new thing is a familiar challenge to class surveyors, in fact. In the region busy with afloat and dry-docking surveys, I’m trying to bridge the field experience and reality to the sound development of future policy and methodology of ClassNK. That will be my mission, on top of my responsibility to control the offices adequately and continuously offer the best service in the region.

With ClassNK’s global presence, and the provided services, how do you see the future of the maritime industry with the decarbonisation challenges and environment friendly fuels?
More than 150 countries and regions have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 or any timeline, and governments have made their GHG reduction targets more ambitious. Sustainable finance and ESG investment for pursuing zero-emission is also gaining more attention in economic activities. In the maritime industry as well, initiatives toward zero-emission are accelerating in both the public and private sectors, and the time has come to systematically plan and manage GHG emissions from shipping. In other words, controlling GHG emissions will affect corporate competitiveness directly.

That’s why we are providing ClassNK Zero-Emission Transition Support Services, a set of supporting services to deal with the various challenges encountered when managing GHG emissions, giving customers the basis to plan, develop and implement zero-emission strategies and manage GHG emissions as part of daily business operations in pursuit of zero-emission shipping. 

The services are categorized as; GHG Emissions Management System Development & Certification, GHG Emissions Management Tools, GHG Emissions Verification & Assessment, and GHG Emissions Reduction Support. Within these categories, ClassNK offers certification services related to GHG emissions such as EEDI/EEXI, DCS/CII, regional MRV, Poseidon Principles, Sea Cargo Charter, provision of GHG emission management software, evaluation for the achievement of carbon neutrality, and more. Speaking of future fuels, which is critical to achieve zero-emission shipping, the clear pathway is not yet in our hands. Considering that the newbuilding ordered today will remain in the market over 2030, it must be difficult for shipowners to decide the spec for the ship ordered today. ClassNK has been actively working with various front runners to realize technologies for zero-emission, including any alternatives to fossil fuels, so that the industry could have as many options for transitions to decarbonization as possible. At these joint projects, ClassNK takes the role of safety assessments and issues credentials to move projects forward. Moreover, we reflect the outcomes to develop guidelines outlining the requirements to protect ships from any danger or harm in consideration of the emerging tech characteristics. ClassNK joined projects to abate GHG emissions related to ammonia-fuel, hydrogen fuel cells, wind propulsion, carbon capturing, and transportation of future resources like LH2 and CO2.

Are there any plans to strengthen the presence of ClassNK in the Middle East? New branches for example?  Other Plans? 
ClassNK has organized its survey network to best cater to customer needs, and we are proud that we didn’t downsize it even during COVID-19 to fulfill our service. Though it might be still early for me to mention the specific idea, we will keep pace with the upcoming and potential growth of the region.

ClassNK has recently granted approval in the principle “AiP” to IHI Power Systems, which is considered a huge step; how does it serve ClassNK’s motivation to stay among the leading classification societies?
We have so far announced the issuance of 16 AiP related to decarbonization or other innovative technology in 2022. At the initial stage of designing or before the specific target ship to be implemented is decided, the design is examined based on the existing regulations, such as international conventions and ship classification rules, and AiP is issued as proof of conformity with requirements. It also prevents rework of regulatory aspects in the post-process, shortens the examination time at the time of class registration, and can be used as a technical basis for an external appeal of the design status. We are very glad that our certification helps stakeholders and industry convince the technology’s feasibility, and accelerate projects.

ClassNK released safety requirements regarding ammonia fuelled ships. How is this helping in the decarbonization process?
One-third of our AiP in 2022 is related to ammonia, which should reflect the expectation as ship fuel for decarbonization since it does not emit CO2 when combusted. Meanwhile, adequate safety measures are imperative, as it has been pointed out that ammonia is toxic to humans and corrosive to materials. 

Again, ClassNK has been involved in projects aiming for zero-emission ships using ammonia fuel in terms of safety assessment, and has issued its “Guidelines for Ships Using Alternative Fuels” as a necessary standard to minimize the risks related to ammonia-fueled ships for the ships, crews, and environment by stipulating requirements for installation, controls, and safety devices. Several AiP were issued in line with these guidelines that should work as I explained. Our dedicated team is now revising the guidelines from their experience to support further the promotion of ammonia fueled ships.

After releasing the latest version of “Prime Ship-PSC”, how does ClassNK support new technologies in the maritime industry? And how can it facilitate seafarers’ lives?
Safety can be achieved not only by robust hull structures and durable machinery but also by ship management systems operated by seafarers and shore staff. 

“PrimeShip-PSC Intelligence” for ship management companies is an example of ClassNK’s commitment to ensure a better management system onboard. The system provides various functions to help improve ship management systems, including the indication of trends of the PSC findings pointed out by each country or port and output of checklists according to the trends, with a PC version for shore and a mobile app for seafarers. It can give insights based on the holistic and updated database of typical PSC issues, and the company can utilize them to plan and implement measures mitigating safety and operational risks efficiently. ClassNK continuously develops and releases such tools to help seafarers work on safety with less burden.

Robban Assafina Magazine, Issue 82, Nov./ Dec. 2022, Maritime Host, p. 95


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Issue 82 of Robban Assafina

(Nov./Dec. 2022)


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