THE American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has experienced a significant increase this year in contracts in Asian shipyards for the classification of new vessels of over 10,000 deadweight tonnes (dwt). As a result, ABS has emerged as the leader in classing vessels to be delivered from Asian yards. At the end of September, the vessels building or contracted to be built to ABS class in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China totalled 12.1 million dwt. This represented a market share of 27.5 per cent, believed to be the largest Asian market share of any classification society. In Japan, ABS's six million dwt represented a 32 per cent market share. In South Korea, its 3.9 million dwt represented a 20 per cent market share, in Taiwan it had 1.4 million dwt, representing a 70 per cent market share, and in China 845,000 dwt, representing a 22 per cent share. There are also 43 vessels building in Singapore to ABS class, representing a 70.5 per cent share, and 10 vessels building in India to ABS class, a 37 per cent market share. In reporting the surge, ABS chairman Frank Iarossi said: 'This is an increase in tonnage of 20 per cent from the start of this year and, according to the best of our knowledge, moves ABS into the top orderbook position in newbuilding classification work for ocean cargo ships of over 10,000 dwt to be built in Asian shipyards.' He said it was a gratifying development and showed the increased regard in which ABS was being held by the marine industry around the world. He attributed several probable reasons for the positive situation. One was technology leadership through SafeHull, a dynamic-basic design and evaluation method for enhancing ship structures which is available only through ABS. The other was improvement in services and customer satisfaction through the initiatives of its ABS 2000 strategic plan. There was also an attitude of continuous improvement within the ABS organisation through its total quality management programme. Mr Iarossi said its work in new bulk carriers had also increased. Among vessels building or contracted to ABS class were series orders in the 140,000 to 160,000-dwt range at Hyundai in South Korea, China Shipbuilding Corp in Taiwan and NKK of Japan for owners including Maritime Overseas Corp, Oak Steamship, Sincere Navigation and Anangel. Series orders for 40,000 to 50,000-dwt bulk carriers at several Asian yards had also helped to give ABS the lead in classing new vessels.