Koichi Fujiwara Takes Over as Head of ClassNK

Mr. Fujiwara, second from left (2012, file image courtesy K Line)

By MarEx 2016-03-07 21:41:25

ClassNK executive vice president Koichi Fujiwara has been appointed as chairman, president and representative director of the Japanese classification society, effective Monday.

Noboru Ueda has stepped down as representative director, chairman and president.

In addition, executive vice president Tetsushi Agata has been appointed executive auditor as part of ClassNK's aim to strengthen its auditing system, and executive vice presidents Yasushi Nakamura and Tetsuya Kinoshita will continue in their present roles, joined by Junichiro Iida as managing director.

Mr. Fujiwara said that “following the recent downturn of the shipping and shipbuilding markets, the business environment surrounding ClassNK has become even more challenging. Under our new executive team, we will work to ensure stable operations and further enhance our corporate governance.”

Mr. Fujiwara holds a masters in naval architecture from the University of Tokyo, and served in Japan’s Ministry of Transportation. He assumed the role of director-general of the Ministry’s Maritime Bureau in 2006, then joined ClassNK in 2007. At ClassNK, he rose to managing director in 2010, then executive vice president in 2011, with responsibility for the expansion and development of the society’s certification services. The society now has vessel survey offices in more than 70 locations and representation in all major ports.

In 2012, ClassNK's register surpassed the 200 million gross ton mark, making it the first classification society in history to pass that milestone. But the merger of Det Norske Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd created DNV GL later that year, surpassing ClassNK with a total of about 350 million gross tons on registry, or about 18 percent of the global fleet.

Under outgoing president Noboru Ueda's leadership, ClassNK set itself the goal of regaining pole position as the largest classification society, with the aim of increasing the proportion of its non-Japanese membership to 50 percent.

But in addition to international competition from DNV and others, the society also faced reputational challenges from the loss of the MOL Comfort, a ClassNK-registered vessel that broke up and sank at sea in 2013, leading to $400 million in insurance claims and hundreds of millions in lawsuits against her builder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The final IACS report into her loss suggested that the hull fracture probably originated from the bottom shell plates in MOL Comfort’s midship section, and it recommended changes to IACS rules on the methods for calculating hull strength.