Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Shaken faith

Posted on | January 16, 2013 | No Comments

Not a lot seemed to happen during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, although the UK Met. Office managed, on the Blairite principle of “today being a good day to bury bad news”  to sneak out, at the height of the festivities, their latest assessment that global warming is happening a great deal slower than the climate alarmists would have had us believe. Thank goodness for alert watchers who pushed aside their Christmas pudding to note this volte face, even to suggest that the Maldive Islands won’t be slipping below the surface any moment soon.  As global warming has become an article of faith to people who believe in little else, it seems, new terrors will soon be conjugated to frighten us.

Also presented as a sort of  faith-based Christmas present was the news that the two great classification societies Germanischer Lloyd and Det Norske Veritas had come to an accommodation and would be merging. We have, of course been here before and the proposed marriage on that occasion was not consummated.

Will this be different? Those who like to see the world in a perpetual state of merger and dissolution – the consultants and corporate lawyers – have long been advocating what they describe as “rationalisation” among the large classification societies, despite the fact that they all seem to have managed very well to grow independently over the years. And let’s face it, classification societies are not your average corporation. I have long regarded them as one would look at the great world religions, their rule books constituting their own articles of faith and their high ethos sublimating any base commercial criteria. That’s what I’d like to think, anyway.

When I was at sea the occasional visits from the class surveyor prefaced an air of desperate panic as we strove mightily to be fault-free in every respect as the high priest arrived aboard with his boiler suit to conduct his rituals before the supplicant chief engineer. Over the years, as one got to know other class societies, they could be thought of as different denominations, but while they were polite to one another, they were as likely to merge as Catholics were to join forces with Ulster Protestants.

Well, we have to wish them both well in their joint enterprise in Hamburg and Hovik But as with all such mergers and takeovers, we have to be sympathetic to all those people who were brought up to believe their particular denomination was the best, their career path was pre-ordained, and now, in the great shake-up and shake out, will find their ambitions thwarted and their faith challenged.

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