18 Jan 2024
by Dr Sam Andrews

Lloyd’s Register chief: ‘Emissions reduction remains a key focus’

Classification and compliance experts Lloyd’s Register (LR) work to ensure all registered vessels are safely operated, and we caught up with Chief Operations Officer Mark Darley to explore his perspectives on the maritime industry. 

You’ve had quite an extensive career. Can you tell us about it? 

My degree is in Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering, which I studied at Strathclyde University. I joined LR, initially as an engineering intern whilst still at university and then onto the LR graduate programme. That was more than 20 years ago, and in the intervening years, my career with the organisation has taken me all over the world, having lived and worked in six different countries spanning four different continents before my current role as LR’s Chief Operations Officer. 

What does your job involve? 

As a trusted industry adviser, our clients come to LR as they know they can expect a first-class experience. It’s my job to ensure that we deliver on what we promise. Whether that is in our compliance business, ensuring that we have the surveyors with the right knowledge in the right location to support any of the 9,000+ ships we have in our classed fleet. Or working alongside our subject matter experts with clients looking to safely be first in the implementation of a new piece of technology or, as we have seen more recently, run on a new type of fuel. 

Strategically, in an organisation traditionally known for its classification activities, it’s about predicting what the future might hold beyond classification. How, as an industry, can we harness the use of data and digitalisation, be it in digital class regimes, automation, predictive maintenance and planning or across the LR Group with LR One Ocean helping improve operational performance for our clients? 

What has been the highlight of your career so far? 

There have been many highlights and for different reasons, but I think one of my most memorable moments was when I was an LR Surveyor in Dubai. I had the opportunity to be the LR lead for a vessel called the Limburg that had suffered significant structural damage as a result of a terrorist attack off the coast of Yemen. 

As a young engineer at the time, it gave me an appreciation of the work we do and how, with collaboration and similarly minded people, we can achieve great things often in short periods of time. In this particular case, nearly 50% of the ship structure had to be replaced due to the blast and subsequent fire damage. 

Covid-19 had quite an impact on the maritime industry. What impact did it have on LR? 

Covid-19 changed the way many industries operate. Technology enabled the increased use of [video services], and now remote working at least part of the time is the new normal for many of us.  

Similarly, whilst not a new concept, remote surveys – surveys without a physical surveyor in attendance onboard – really came into their own during the pandemic and continue to gain traction. These surveys use video and picture evidence gathered using everyday technologies, such as live video feed and data storage and transfer, to inspect various parts of a ship. 

Safety must always come first, but we believe that the scope of remote surveys will continue to increase as technologies develop and their cost effectiveness is improved.  

LR issued guidance notes on requests for surveys without attendance in 2018, and now, around one-third of the surveys we do annually are undertaken using remote techniques. Our clients are keen to take advantage of the benefits. These include reduced vessel downtime, more streamlined operations, faster turnaround on survey outcomes, and less travel for the surveyor, which can be useful if the vessel is in a remote location. 

Our overall goal is to be able to offer survey regimes in our class business that can be physical, remote or use data and digital class to achieve compliance.  

What should be on the maritime industry’s radar for 2024? 

Emissions reduction remains a key focus for most shipowners and this year attention should be on the installation of emissions reduction technology on ships during dry docking. Vessels will now have only one, and at the most two, five-year dry docks before the 2030 carbon emissions reduction target of 40% comes into effect. 

Most technologies, such as coatings, propellor ducts and bow enhancements, can only be installed during dry docking, and so we anticipate that a lot of decisions will be made in relation to these technologies this year. 

We should also use 2024 to renew our momentum to get alternative-fuelled vessels on the water by 2030. The industry is making remarkable strides, but more investment is needed to close shore-side infrastructure gaps and build a viable alternative fuel network.  

Meanwhile, I think with advancements such as Starlink and an even greater transmission of data from ship to shore, 2024 will be the year maritime understands and accelerates the use of data and technology not only in reducing emissions but [also] in challenging and addressing some of the legacy ways of operating and making business decisions.


Main image: Lloyd’s Register’s Chief Operations Officer Mark Darley; Credit: Lloyd’s Register