Norway Sues DNV Certification Office over Sunken Frigate

The Norwegian Armed Forces sue DNV over the Helge Ingstad incident:

(Now this thread is complete and can be closed)

It is easy to blame the last Class surveyor aboard for not having noticed the deficiency that Owner and Master overlooked. And who has heard of warships being classed?

Naval combatants in the US are now generally classed to ABS Naval Vessel Rules. All of the other classification societies also have their own sets of naval rules. So I believe classing combatants is the norm now days.

Building a ship according Class rules is one thing, keeping it in Class is another. To assist a surveyor with the latter the Class issues a document with a long list of items to be checked at regular intervals to keep the ship in Class. A Chief Engineer may check many items in the engine room as part of planned maintenance so that a Class surveyor does not need to attend, etc. Anyway, as long as you tick off the items on the list when they are due, the ship is in Class. The Norwegian Armed Forces should simply study the fine print of the Class certificate.

class got paid, they can get sued

Shipowners build their ships to Class rules to ensure that the quality is good.And then they keep them in Class to ensure that their conditions are maintained, etc. Class is not interested in what you do with the ship and what crew you put on. To sue Class for alleged professional errors is not very clever.
Main reason to class a ship is to facilitate insurance, finance and chartering! Underwriters, banks and charterers do not like ships that are not classed. But I have never heard about anyone chartering and insuring a war ship!
Good shipowners never have any problems with Class. They just maintain the condition of the ship, so that all class surveys are formalities. And Class knows it.

Has anyone ever won a case against a class society?

Hard to see how this will fly in the courts. Some legal eagles are banking the cheques as per normal.

The USCG built the 175 WLM’s and WLB’s to “class” but I would bet every dime I have that an ABS inspector has not been aboard for a tour, let alone an inspection since they were commissioned.

The original budgets for them also called for painting and cleaning crews to come aboard because they cut the crew size to the bone to initially get funding for them. They eventually left those items budgeted and then “right-sized” the crews in their terms.

This was probably illegal without telling congress about the change but nobody in government is ever REALLY held accountable for their actions unless it is morally wrong AND letting it go embarasses someone further up the chain of command.

I doesn’t seem to me from reading that article that they are taking issue with a deficiency overlooked on inspection. It appears they are claiming DNV should have recognized and divulged the potential failure mode of watertight integrity loss due to the design of a hollow propeller shaft passing through more than one watertight compartment. DNV classed the vessel and this potential issue should have come up in the design approval Class review phase.

On the other hand, it is the owner who choses the Classification Society. So if the vessel met existing class rules and design standards, and the owner accepted them, then I’m not sure it is Class’s fault for not foreseeing this failure mode? Or is the issue that they did foresee it and didn’t alert the owner? It is tough to tell from he article what they mean by “not revealing it in advance”.

Perhaps someone who speaks Norwegian can glean more info from the actual filings, as the english language news articles seem a bit thin on what the actual charge for liability is.

Are they saying the shaft was severed in one compartment and the seal in another failed to prevent flooding? Was a propeller ripped off the shaft and the shaft damaged in multiple compartments? How did water get past the gear or OD box and into more than one compartment?
Every controllable pitch propeller uses a hollow shaft so it should be obvious to anyone that some bizarre case might open that path to seawater in every compartment it passes through … duh.

Yeah that’s what I’m not clear on. She was CPP, but you need more than one failure mode to be shipping an uncontrollable amount of water back through the shaft and into a compartment. I don’t think I ever even considered that possibility when I was last on a CPP ship.

Looks to me like it would take at least 3 separate points of failure.

sinking of the Prestige, I think the got the surveyor but not ABS

A crack developed in the Prestige hull, oil started to leak, the Master noticed it and wanted to enter a port of refuge and offload the cargo, which local coast guard denied and ordered the tanker out to sea where it broke apart, etc. All the fault of the Master.

It was the fault of the Spanish, French and Portuguese Governments for denying safe refuge to a ship in danger and sending her out into a storm where it sank. She stayed afloat for six days after the crack developed. Six days where she could have been saved and an oil spill averted. The charges brought against the crew were bullsh@t.


Classification societies are not guarantors of safety of life or property at
sea, or the seaworthiness of a vessel. Although classification is based on the
understanding that the vessel is loaded, operated and maintained in a proper
manner by competent and qualified personnel, the society has no control over
how a vessel is operated and maintained between the periodical surveys it
conducts. The responsibility to ensure the vessels’ seaworthiness ultimately
rests with the shipowner.

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You also have the MV ERIKA, in which RINA was sued for liability.

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Yes thats the best example