What does it take to build a reliable ship? On the occasion of the 150th birthday of Lloyd’s Register in the Netherlands you may take a look into the world of ship surveying. How many lifeboats are mandatory? And what exactly do crayfish have to do with this?

You probably don't stop to think about it, but you, too, benefit from safety at sea. Whether you order packages from abroad via Internet or hop on the ferry to Terschelling: every ship you encounter was once surveyed. These are intensive inspections, performed by such classification agencies as Lloyd’s Register. After all, it would be horrible to have a tanker leak oil, or to have a ferryboat covered in toxic paint, or to have a ship explode in the Rotterdam Harbour.

From drawing table to sea trials

Before a ship is launched, it must earn a certification showing that it is seaworthy and safe. Awarding such certifications is the task of classification agencies. To do this, they send out a "surveyor" (inspector). In "Waterproof", you follow a surveyor who first peers at a ship's construction blueprints, then goes to the shipyard or to the factory where the steel plates for the ship are made. Surveyors are involved with the entire construction process, including the sea trials. And the ship gets certified only once everything has proven to work as it should.

Non-indigenous crayfish

Several exciting shipping developments are central to this exhibit, innovations that have drastically changed regulations. Classification agencies pay close attention to maritime innovations and also contribute to these. Under their supervision, tankers became double-hulled, lifeboats became mandatory and dead-end hallways on board have been outlawed. The environment has also become increasingly important in recent decades. Consider the regulation of ballast water, for example – this ensures that a ship remains stable under varying cargo loads. In the past, exotic animals such as crayfish were often relocated to the Netherlands in this water. Now, ballast water must be purified far away from the coast and this is no longer possible. This is just one of the many examples of protocols being adapted so that safety remains paramount.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation makes this exhibition possible.