Going Green: The QUALSHIP 21 programme and the push for a more sustainable maritime industry

Going Green: The QUALSHIP 21 programme and the push for a more sustainable maritime industry
Captain Ranvir Jatar
General Manager, Corporate Compliance
Published 20 Oct 2020

“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” – Barack Obama, 20 January 2015

Barack Obama is not wrong. Climate change is a phenomenon that affects us all, no matter who we are or where we come from. The global community is gradually coming to the realisation that something needs to be done if we are to conserve life on earth.

The scope and potential for preserving our planet increases when large corporations make a concerted effort to reduce their carbon footprint. This is especially true for the maritime industry, which has been reliant on pollutant heavy fuels for over a century and accounts for 2-3% of global emissions. In recent years, the industry has been working hard to change this, and transition to more environmentally aware and sustainable forms of energy. Indeed, recent initiatives by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), such as the introduction of a Sulphur Cap on fuel in January 2020 and the implementation of a ‘Shipboard Energy Efficiency Management Plan’ have aided this process.

Here at FLEET, we adhere to these regulations and are fully committed to investing in sustainable shipping. We have voluntarily set quantifiable reduction targets for our ships’ greenhouse gas emissions and other waste streams. For example, by the end of 2020, compared with the preceding year, we aim to cut annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from ships by 1%, nitrous oxide (NOx) emission from generators by 2% and refrigerants by 5%. We are also doubling down our efforts to reduce waste and plastic use on our ships considerably.

Additionally, we are managing problems associated with the generation of bilge water and sludge and the discharge of slop oil. In September 2019, we joined the Getting to Zero Coalition, which aims to lead the push for the decarbonisation of the shipping industry.

Sustainability begins with accountability, which is why we are taking a mixed approach towards reducing our emissions and thereby decreasing our carbon footprint.

The QUALSHIP 21 Programme

Companies that maintain their ships to the highest standard and staff them with well-trained seafarers are recognised by many shipping bodies in the maritime industry. One such coveted recognition is the QUALSHIP 21 programme offered by The United States Coast Guard (USCG).

The USCG offers the QUALSHIP 21 programme to reward those companies, operators, and vessels that demonstrate the highest commitment to quality and safety and the highest level of compliance with international standards and US laws and regulations.

On 1 July 2017, they introduced the E-Zero (Zero Environmental Deficiencies or Violations) scheme, as an addition to the existing QUALSHIP 21 programme, to recognise those exemplary vessels that have consistently adhered to environmental compliance, while also demonstrating a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Only those vessels that maintain these high standards receive the E-Zero designation on their QUALSHIP 21 certificates.

Worldwide, only 3,478 ships qualify for QUALSHIP 21 recognition, out of which only 125 have the E-Zero endorsement.

At FLEET, we are proud to currently have 166 ships issued with QUALSHIP 21 certificates. We are now working towards having the QUALSHIP 21 certificates endorsed with the E-Zero designation for all our concerned ships.

In the path towards achieving this goal, we are regularly monitoring the conditions of our ships to ensure they are functioning as efficiently as possible and educating and training our staff in unison. This way, we aim to ensure no ship violates the environmental standards set.

Climate change is one of the most pressing concerns of our time today with global, widespread effects. We need to transition to more sustainable methods of working – be it in the maritime industry or beyond.  What we do in the next few decades will ultimately determine the fate of our planet. The good news is we have made a start. It is now up to all of us to build on this and move forward conscientiously and sensibly.