Russia dropped from ship certification body as sanctions bite

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Ships are seen near the Russky Bridge connecting to the Russky Island at a cold day in far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel

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LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - The world's top association of ship certifiers has withdrawn membership from the Russia Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) due to the impact of sanctions on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine, in another blow to the country's vital shipping sector.

Classification societies provide services such as checking that ships are seaworthy, and this certification cover is essential for securing insurance and entry into ports.

In recent days, Britain's LR and Denmark's DNV, have both announced they were stopping or winding down their business ties with Russia.

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The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), which had 12 members previously including LR and DNV and forms the top tier of ship certifiers globally, said late on Friday it was withdrawing RS' membership with immediate effect, which it said was "no longer tenable", citing UK sanctions on Russia where IACS is domiciled.

"IACS deeply regrets the circumstances that have resulted in this decision," it said.

RS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

An IACS spokesperson said on Monday that the impact on RS of no longer being an IACS member would "depend on its various, private bilateral arrangements with entities such as shipowners and flag states".

The spokesperson said IACS was a technical association that "develops and agrees minimum technical standards".

"IACS will need to make various consequential changes regarding the composition of various working groups," the spokesperson said.

"IACS is not involved in the operational and commercial activities of its members. As such, the decision whether to continue to engage bilaterally with RS will need to be taken by each IACS member individually."

RS said in June last year it had formed a strategic partnership with leading Russian shipping company Sovcomflot (SCF), which included cooperating on the development of new marine fuels to reduce emissions and technical supervision of ice-class ships operating in the Arctic.

SCF was among the Russian entities the U.S. Treasury restricted last month from raising capital in U.S. markets, which shipping sources say will complicate transactions for the Moscow-listed company.

It was not yet clear what impact the growing restrictions would have on the safety of SCF's fleet and their ability to sail.

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Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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