Building on a world first achievement

22nd Nov 2021

A decade on from Northern Marine becoming the first ship management company in the world to attain a then new ISO standard in energy management, those involved have reflected on the achievement and how it has shaped the Company’s approach to energy efficiency ever since.

In December 2011, Northern Marine Management became one of a very few companies in the world to achieve ISO 50001:2011 certification.

The auditable international standard (now superseded by ISO 50001: 2018), enabled organizations to follow a systematic approach in achieving continual improvement of energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy use and consumption.

As a ship management and marine services company, Northern Marine places great emphasis on the efficient use of energy throughout its fleet of managed vessels.

Euan Maxwell, HSEQ Manager (Quality & Compliance), Northern Marine Management, said: “At that time [2011] we were already well used to monitoring and managing energy efficiency across our fleet of managed vessels, however the Standard provided us with an industry-wide, auditable reporting process and energy baselines to benchmark vessel types, and ourselves against other companies.

“It also, most importantly, provided further opportunity to ensure systematic improvement.

“Attaining the certification required a huge amount of effort from all levels, and there was a sense of achievement and pride in being the first in our industry, and indeed one of only a handful of companies in the world at that time to be awarded.”

As the selected body overseeing Northern Marine’s application for certification, Bureau Veritas held a pivotal role, however, were new to auditing the Standard.  

Darren Roberts, Crew and Systems Quality Manager, Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore (UK), echoed Euan’s sentiments. 

He said: “Northern Marine have been at the forefront of energy and environmental management before these became the buzz words in the marine industry.

“As the first ship manager to attain ISO 50001:2011 (ISO 50001:2018 as it is now), this was a major step for Northern Marine, Bureau Veritas, and in fact the maritime industry as a whole.

“The ability of both Northern Marine as a ship management organisation, and Bureau Veritas as the Certification Body to take a standard; primarily designed for shore-based industry and make if ‘fit’ into the maritime sector was a major accomplishment.

“It was a huge learning curve for everyone involved. Although both the audit team and Northern Marine were fully familiar with the requirements of the Standard, an audit in a ship management company was an unknown quantity.

“The commitment and determination shown by all parties involved in the process led to a world first.”

Well before applying for the certification, key Northern Marine personnel underwent respective training to understand the Standard, before then carrying out a Gap analysis on the Company’s energy management practices at that time.

All was linked to the Company’s Safety Management System (eSMS), which to this day underpins the onshore and offshore operations related to the safe and efficient management of vessels.

Ko Ko Naing, Head of HSEQ, NMM added: “By achieving the Standard it put us a step ahead.

“We had a shipboard energy management plan onboard our ships before it was a requirement by the IMO, and that was because of ISO 50001.

“Another benefit of the Standard was the required inclusion of our seafarers and garnering their ideas and recommendations on how we can make our clients’ vessels and the operations onboard more energy efficient. This is a practice we continue to this day.

“While the attainment of the certification in 2011 - and all the other Standards we have achieved since then - is a source of pride, they are ultimately not worth the paper they are printed on unless we are committed to demonstratable continual improvement.”

In more recent years Northern Marine has implemented several processes, systems and solutions to improve energy efficiency, such as vessel modifications and the creation of an internally built management software system that includes a specific energy management focused module where seafarers can contribute data and better understand the outcomes of more energy efficient operations.

The exploration and implementation of alternative vessel fuels is another area linked to energy management and the reduction of harmful vessel emissions.

Assisting client Navigator Gas with a world-first engine conversion to enable one of their vessels to reduce emission substantially by switching from oil to ethane as fuel and assisting Stena Bulk with a pioneering bio-fuel trial onboard one of their IMO II MAX tankers, are more recent examples.

Ko Ko added: “When we talk about energy management; what is pivotal is the CO2 emissions created as a result of the energy our managed vessels use.

“We are not a ship builder or ship owner, but as soon as a vessel is under our management, we need to make sure it uses the optimum amount of energy to ensure sustainable operations, no matter what fuel it utilises.

“Our previous experiences and all the certifications we have achieved have been hard earned, however it is our innovative technical capability across the Group that continuously propels us forward into more energy efficient and sustainable shipping.”

In 2019 Northern Marine attained the updated ISO 50001: 2018 Standard.


Photo Left to right: Euan Maxwell and Ko Ko Naing