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Risk-based Expert System for Through Life Ship Structural Inspection and Maintenance and New-build Ship Structural Design

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€4 328 827
EU Contribution
€3 248 111
Project website
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Call for proposal
Link to CORDIS
Background & Policy context

Ships operate in a severely corroding and (metal) fatiguing environment that reduces the strength of the ship structure, which can only be kept safe by regular inspection and repair of paint coatings, excessively corroded plate and fatigue cracks.

Present inspection planning, and feedback on design, is based on long term experience with usually no account taken of the needs of any specific ship. Reliability or Risk-based methods, applied in other industries, are not applicable to this problem of using information from large numbers of ships to improve the inspection planning of any given ship.

Structural failures of ships are, relative to onshore structures, very common and these contribute to the personal risk levels of mariners, and contribute to high pollution and economic costs.


The primary objective of the RISPECT project is to use ship structural inspection results (coating condition, corrosion, cracks and deformation) along with the calculated expected results to guide future inspections required to achieve a minimum structural reliability. This probabilistic inspection planning is not new but this project takes the method a stage further to use data from large numbers of ships in a central statistical database to contribute to the decision making process for any one ship. This has the effect of combining the traditional Classification Society broad view with the usual probabilistic method that is based on data from one ship only. Secondary objectives of the project are to:

  • improve communications between ship owners, managers, inspectors and class;
  • use the results as input to new design.

This project's methodology has evolved partly from a recognition that integrating two apparently different methods for inspection planning should allow better decisions to be made:

  1. Inspection, timing, method and feedback to design for ships has traditionally been based on experience and is essentially determined by class rules and allows them to be improved. The resulting inspection programs are usually the same for all types of ships. Exceptionally, if severe problems are found, more inspection may be demanded by the classification society for the particular ship and any sister ships. The traditional method has the advantage that it is based on an overview of ship related structural problems but cannot deal well with ship to ship variations in construction or use.
  2. Very occasionally, first principles, reliability based, methods have also been used to determine ship reliability and the required inspection levels and even more rarely, the initial design requirements. These methods have generally been applied to individual component parts of individual ships and can deal reasonably well with the individual part but they do not give a good estimate of the overall reliability of the ship and, crucially, they lack the large personal awareness 'experience database' that the traditional, experience-based, methodology uses, so the reliability methods are not calibrated by reality.

The project brought these two methods together and set out to develop and demonstrate an improved decision making method.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
The European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Specific funding programme


This project brought two methods together and developed and demonstrated an improved decision making method, based on a combination of experience-based and first-principles, statistical analysis, for safe, cost-effective structural inspection, repair and design rule improvement of existing ships.

Within the proposed primary methodology the experience base is handled statistically but, in parallel, the classification society experience is also tapped, using an expert system approach, to provide a 'common-sense' check on the purely statistical analysis and warn users of possible shortcomings in the method's predictions. This contributes to improved justification of important decisions, better inspections, more important defects being found and repaired, better initial design, fewer pollution incidents and the saving of lives.

In addition the project provides better interfaces between ship manager, owner, class, regulatory authority and repair yard which improves the efficiency of structural data management and (selective) distribution.

Strategy targets

  • An efficient and integrated mobility system:
    • Secure Transport
    • Acting on transport safety: saving thousands of lives
  • Innovating for the future (technology and behaviour)
    • Promoting more sustainable development


Lead Organisation
University Of Strathclyde
Richmond Street, Glasgow, G1 1XQ, United Kingdom
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€630 047
Partner Organisations
Services For Maritime Management S.r.l.
Via Toledo, 156, 80100 NAPOLI, Italy
EU Contribution
€302 640
Bureau Veritas
Boulevard du Château 67-71, 92571 NEUILLY SUR SEINE, France
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€207 570
Atlantec Enterprise Solutions Gmbh
Oehleckerring 13, 22419 Hamburg, Germany
EU Contribution
€344 098
The University Of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Kensington Terrace 6, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€293 400
Consorzio Armatori Per La Ricerca S.r.l
Via D. Lecco De Guevara 17, 80059 Torre Del Greco, Italy
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€163 230
Instituto De Soldadura E Qualidade
Avenida Do Professor Doutor Cavaco Silva 33 Parque Das Tecnologias, 2740 120 Porto Salvo, Portugal
EU Contribution
€167 370
Shipbuilders & Shiprepairers Association
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€174 686
Politechnika Gdanska
Ul. Gabriela Narutowicza, 80N/A233 Gdansk, Poland
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€247 560
Associacao Do Instituto Superior Tecnico Para A Investigacao E Desenvolvimento
Avenida Rovisco Pais 1, 1049 001 Lisboa, Portugal
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€344 564
Twi Limited
Granta Park Great Abington, Cambridge, CB1 6AL, United Kingdom
EU Contribution
€372 946


Technology Theme
Ship design and manufacturing
Ship design for maximised safety
Development phase

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