Topics at IACS

The International Association of Classification Societies, more commonly known as IACS, was established in 1968 by seven leading classification societies (ABS, BV, DNV, GL, LR, NK, RINA) in order to promote the improvement of standards for ensuring safety at sea and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment, enhance communication and cooperation with relevant international and national maritime organizations, and allow for increased cooperation with global maritime industry. Including ClassNK, IACS currently has a total of 12 member societies, and at present more than 90 % of the world’s international commercial fleet (gross tonnage base) is registered with IACS member societies.

As shown below, IACS consists of the IACS Council, which is the governing body of the Association, General Policy Group (GPG), which handles general policy matters, and five (5) Panels (Hull, Machinery, Safety, Environmental and Survey) which are in charge of technical matters associated with the development and revision of Unified Requirements (UR) and Unified Interpretations (UI).

IACS organizational structure
*SG: Small Group, EG: Expert Group, PT: Project Team
IACS Organizational Structure

The IACS Permanent Secretariat, which has been located in London since 1992, consists of the Permanent Secretary together with about ten staff who handle the day to day operations of the Secretariat such as communication with IMO, assisting the Council Chairman, and other activities. In addition to the Permanent Secretariat, IACS also maintains a Quality Committee to manage the IACS quality system, Small Groups (SG) comprised of a small number of members created to investigate and carry out specific tasks and report to Council or GPG, as well as Expert Groups (EG) comprised of experts from each of the member societies. Further, Project Teams (PTs) comprised of a small number of members have been set up under each Panel to efficiently address specific technical matters within a fixed period.


The main role of the IACS Council is to make public the essential role that IACS plays in maintaining standards for ship safety and protection of the marine environment. The Council is also tasked with promoting the role of classification and the high quality of IACS members to the greater maritime industry, as well as executive decision making related to the association, including establishing appropriate measures towards member societies which fall below the Association’s high standards. As the ultimate decision making body within IACS, Council additionally makes important organizational decisions including the appointment of the Permanent Secretary and the GPG Chairman, as well as the final approval of IACS’ budget and related financial concerns.

General Policy Group (GPG)

The role of the GPG is to develop and implement the policies, directions and long term plans of the Council, to periodically review and revise the scope of work and mandate of each of the Panels, as well as oversee and approve each Panel’s work programme and budget, and to review and formally adopt the technical resolutions developed by the Panels. GPG is further responsible for approving the establishment of joint working groups (JWG) with industry on specific technical topics, and reporting on the outcomes of the JWG to the Council and the greater maritime industry. GPG is also tasked with monitoring and responding to those activities of the IMO and other organizations which relate to the operations of IACS


The role of the Panels is to develop and update relevant IACS Resolutions such as UR and UI, to monitor and, participate in the work of relevant organizations (e.g. IMO, ILO etc.) relating to the Panel’s field of expertise, and to identify important issues related to the Panel’s activities and propose relevant actions to be taken by IACS to GPG.
At present, IACS maintains five (5) Panels specialized in the fields of hull, machinery, survey, environmental and safety matters, respectively. A brief overview of each Panel’s field of expertise is shown below.

(1) Hull Panel
The Hull Panel addresses all technical items related to the structure of ships including Common Structural Rules (CSR) such as loads and strength, materials and welding and hull damages

(2) Machinery Panel
The Machinery Panel addresses all technical items related to the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems of ships, such as propulsion systems, auxiliary machinery systems, and electric power generation and distribution systems, as well as machinery damage.

(3) Survey Panel
The Survey Panel addresses all technical items related to the survey and certification of ships, components and materials.

(4) Environmental Panel
The Environmental Panel addresses all technical items related to international instruments, e.g. IMO and other bodies, on environmental issue, such as marine pollution, air pollution and energy use.

(5) Safety Panel
The Safety Panel addresses all technical items related to international instruments, e.g. IMO and ILO conventions, on other than those covered by the other Panels including ISM and ISPS certification.