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Classification society Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) is offering safety certification for more than 80 ships managed by Dubai-based SCF Management Services, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned shipping company Sovcomflot, reported Reuters.

Citing an Indian shipping source privy to the certification process, the report stated that through the Dubai unit, the bulk of Sovcomflot’s fleet has now transitioned to IRClass.

The move is expected to help Sovcomflot keep its fleet operational and supply Russian crude oil abroad.

However, responding to queries about Sovcomflot’s certification data, an IRClass spokesperson said that the classification society has not certified ‘vessels owned, flagged or managed’ by Russian entities.

IRClass is part of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), which constitutes more than 90% of the world’s cargo-carrying tonnage.

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“Membership in IACS, which sets technical standards, typically makes a certifier more attractive for insurers, ports, flag registries and shipowners seeking safety assurances”, the news agency stated in its report.

Until March, Russia was also a member of the IACS association. However, its membership was revoked, with 75% of IACS members having voted to expel the Russia Maritime Register of Shipping, due to Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine and retaliatory sanctions imposed on the country.

As a result, several western maritime classification societies, including the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Lloyd’s Register, have pulled out of Russia. 

Four major IACS members from the UK, US, Norway and France have also stopped certifying the Russian fleet in light of the sanctions.

An IACS spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying: “IACS is not involved in the operational and commercial activities of its members, including appraisal, approval surveying and testing of vessels and equipment and the issuing of classification and statutory certificates where authorised.”

Meanwhile, Sovcomflot’s CEO recently claimed that the firm had insured all its cargo vessels with Russian insurers.