Classification societies are part of the world's safety system on the seas, and currently there are in excess of fifty in operation. Ten of the largest organizations belong to the International Association of Classification Societies. They determine classes and conduct reviews of about 90% of global merchant tonnage engaged in commercial activities throughout the world. The primary aim of the classification system is to improve the safety of human life and goods at sea by ensuring that vessel technical state is adequate. Vessel classification is based on an agreement entered into between the classification institute and the vessel owner. This agreement defines the obligations of the parties and sets forth regulations regarding responsibility. The country of the ship's flag is foremost responsible for safety at sea. Unfortunately, some countries fail at meeting this obligation and do not want or are unable to guarantee that their vessels meet international standards. In order to close this loophole, port inspections were put into force. Countries conducting port inspections of vessels should cooperate with the country of the ship's flag and classification institutions
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