Historic 158th Annual Meeting Details Classed Fleet Expansion in 2019 and Continued Growth Amidst the Pandemic
Despite a global pandemic and challenging maritime industry conditions, ABS demonstrated its resilience by growing its classed fleet through 2019 and 2020 now to in excess of 270 million gross tons, while achieving a historic three-year safety milestone without a lost time incident from 2017-2019 and maintaining its leadership position in offshore Classification as well as Port State Control performance.
That was the message for members at the 158th ABS Annual Member and Advisory Council Meeting, the first ever to be held virtually, and which included presentations from the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; the Administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration; and the Commander of U.S. Transportation Command.
“ABS is indeed strong, and we have only become stronger. We are tough, we are resilient and most importantly, we are well-positioned to continue our investments and lead our industry,” said ABS Chairman, President and CEO, Christopher J. Wiernicki in a presentation outlining key ABS achievements throughout 2019 and beyond.
“As we navigate the new paradigm of digitally stimulated development that is driving our technology development, ABS leveraged its expertise in data science, marine and offshore technologies and digital applications to team with owners, operators, charterers, vendors and academia. Together, we jointly began realizing the true potential of digitalization to enhance asset management, fleet performance, sustainability and crew safety. This is the kind of collaboration that continues to demonstrate ABS as a recognized technology leader in our new normal world.”
Key highlights included the launch of ABS Freedom™ platform, the foundation for Digital Class services and rapidly accelerating development of remote technologies to the stage where ABS has the industry’s most comprehensive suite of services. Another was the launch of ABS My Digital Fleet™, a breakthrough platform that provides real-time data-driven insights to improve fleet efficiency, reduce costs and help manage risks.
Wiernicki detailed a succession of advanced digitalization, SMART functions and big data joint development projects with leading industry players, and also highlighted sustainability initiatives, including a major global expansion of its sustainability support for the industry, with three new centers of excellence in Athens, Houston and Copenhagen, together with the ABS Global Sustainability Center that opened in Singapore in 2019.
Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said: “This year has indeed been different but we, ABS and the United States Coast Guard, have worked together just as we have for over 100 years. Together we have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges by extending scheduled services and implementing flexible auditing tools.”
The Honorable Mark Buzby, Administrator of the Maritime Administration, added: “Even as we wrestle with COVID-19, we remain focused on growing U.S. flagged shipping, modernizing our port infrastructure, supporting our shipyards and repair facilities, making better use of our inland waterways and doing all we can to help America’s maritime industry continue to fuel America’s economy. ABS has been a great shipmate and will continue to be an important part of this effort, and I thank you for being a force for confronting challenges and delivering solutions, safely ushering in new technologies to the fleet. Your work will prepare us for better days ahead.”
General Stephen R. Lyons, Commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, acknowledged the important role held by ABS in global shipping and maritime standards and safety saying, “ABS plays a central role in technical classification, modernization, and safety of operations to ensure our U.S. merchant fleet is not only safe day-to-day, but can respond to national defense when needed. High standards, strict enforcement, and innovation are all key to remaining relevant and ready, and I appreciate the ABS role in holding us to a high standard, which has helped shape the Defense Department’s sealift modernization plan.”
Wiernicki concluded, “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must never forget success is a team sport. Everything we accomplished in 2019 and all we continue to do in 2020 is laying the foundation for a new era in the maritime industry that can be attributed directly to our loyal clients and our incredible employees.”