If you think shipping is not going to change quickly, you have your head in the sand. The number if AiPs issued this year alone is proof that there is a technological evolution bubbling
An AiP is an approval in principle. It is the approval from a class society usually given to a novel design of a ship, or a technology or a process that is so new, there are no set class rules to frame it from a safety point of view.
It is as the name suggests a first step for a vessel designer or technology firm that on paper their ideas are worth pursuing, and the growing number demonstrates the appetite for change in the ship design and technology community.
Of course an AiP is not free, the company developing something new needs to bring the class society onboard and pay, but it is a stop check that they are on the right road to create something new.
As shipping works towards a decarbonised future there have been quite a lot of AiPs issued by all the major class societies.
Now an AiP is not the same as a class approval for a new technology, nor is it the detailed design approval that is also needed for a vessel to be under a class society and can be built.
On the one hand these AiPed designs tend to come with somewhat pretty pictures to illustrate the concept, vessel or technology which does not exist yet, and to come with the caveat that there could well be changes when the final design emerges, but on the other, it shows a willingness to work towards a decarbonised and digital future.
So, when Torghatten Nord and Norwegian Ship Design gained AiP from Lloyd’s Register (see one of the latest Aronnax podcast episodes) for a compressed hydrogen fuel-cell powered ferry it gives them the confidence to start choosing a shipyard and continuing with the design, although recognising there could still be changes on the way as they meet any additional safety requirements.
Incidentally don’t confuse the class/safety assurance role of a class society with the environmental advisory aspect which is a commercial consultancy. Strictly speaking the two should be two completely different entities, one helps with environmental ambitions, the other is independent and a must have to ensure a ship is built safely (often to unified safety aspects agreed by all the major class societies that are members of IACS (the International Association of Classification Societies). There has been concern in the last that as class societies developed lucrative commercial divisions they put pressure on the independent assurance advisory role (which should be the independent safety regulator).
But that aside, the AiP trend is set to continue as more and more work is put into finding a future transition strategy for a technologically dependent industry
Here’s some AiP’s I have found that underscore the effort being put into the transition. They are all over the last year, and I have probably missed quite a few!