June, 2020 - Rightship: “Qi is dead. Long live Safety Score!”
- Date: 19/06/2020
Rightship has just announced the impending launch in September, 2020 of their new ‘Safety Score’ system (and the demise of the ‘Qi’ – pronounced “key” - system). In doing so the world’s “largest maritime risk management and environment assessment organisation” (to use Rightship’s own description) is hoping to bring an end to the stream of operator criticism about the current Qi platform it launched in 2016.
All operators in the dry bulk trade will be familiar with the Rightship approval system. Established in 2001, it traditionally gathers data on all commercial vessels over 500GT, scores them on certain factors and processes the data to produce a rating. A rating of 3 and above constitutes “approval”. However, owner users of Qi have expressed concerns for some time now at the opaqueness of the rating system and point to inexplicable inconsistencies in results coming from the predictive model it is based upon. Despite repeated efforts since it was first introduced to “retrain” Qi, Rightship has admitted defeat and is now “retiring” the platform. Rightship appears to have heeded criticism. Safety Score is set to be more refined and transparent in its method, universal in its application (all ships are considered, regardless of age, size and type) and user-friendly. The aim is to offer up-to-date feedback on each ship’s operational performance, its DOC holder, Class and Flag to help operators to measure output and charterers to evaluate, compare and benchmark ships at the pre-fixture stage. One score will be presented based on twenty safety considerations and six sub-scores. Clear safety performance indicators will underpin this model to generate improved benchmarking capabilities and access to a “refined” database. Rightship state that it will be a fairer system.
The upgraded version of Qi will replace the current system of good behaviour stars with progress bars. These, according to the Rightship blog post on the subject, will “highlight the positive progress a ship owner is making, while also providing a more accurate view of the potential for additional
Rightship in the courts
In terms of judicial commentary on this subject, despite this being an area that is ripe for dispute, there is little to be found. In 2010, in “The Silver Constellation”, in which losses were allegedly incurred by the charterers due to the ship’s loss of Rightship approval, the English courts held that in the absence of specific wording, the charterparty contained no obligation to obtain and maintain Rightship approval. The court commented that the standard obligations of eligibility to trade that were contained in the charterparty related to legally imposed requirements only, and not those of a private vetting scheme such as RightShip. For more on that case see our Soundings Issue 4.
The courts have also considered the question of Rightship approval in a case reported in 2014 (“ThePan Gold”)which concerned a claim for a lost fixture due to a low Rightship rating being applied, it later transpired, in error.
A brighter future?
This development suggests a change in approach, but only time will tell whether Rightship’s ambition will be borne out. With Rightship’s record for predictive modelling already in question and the company’s origins in cargo-oriented ship vetting, owners and charterers may not be persuaded immediately. It is nevertheless hoped that the new system will bring long-anticipated clarity to the industry.
In any event, to avoid any nasty surprises our enduring advice to owners concerned by Rightship approval is to include the BIMCO “Dry Bulk Marine Assessment Clause for Time Charterparties” into the charterparty when fixing. This wording is helpfully reviewed on p.19 of the July, 2018 edition of the UK Club publication Hellas HiLlights which also provides a more detailed look at the background to the Rightship approval system.
Members with queries relating to the above issues are invited to contact the Managers for advice and assistance.