“We move into our new marine headquarters at the LR Global Technology Centre in Southampton as the commercial pressures and technical challenges continue to mount in our industry,” explains Brown. “I will be focused on connecting current and future client needs with service innovation and operational excellence to provide the support that our clients and stakeholders need. Class continues to evolve and we are working hard to provide the right combination of expertise in safety, environment and efficiency performance of both assets and operations.”
Commenting on his new role as COO, Brown explains his aims for the yacht sector. “Yachts have always been a very important area for LR,” he says. “As the market leader in yacht classification we have a great deal to live up to, both in terms of our track record and client expectations. My ambition is that we continue to lead in this sector, that the most innovative owners and builders seek and value LR classification and that we are able to support innovation in the yachting sector. New materials, new technologies, levels of comfort and demands for fuel efficiencies and reduced emissions are all pushing our boundaries and we have to do our job to help ensure that safety, performance and regulatory requirements are all managed. Some requests in the yacht sector can be highly demanding and we do our very best to help clients realise the full scale of their ambitions.”
A common frustration cited by the industry is that, because of rigid classification procedures and the time and cost associated with them, innovation in superyacht design and build is almost impossible. Brown, however, reassures that this issue is on his radar. “Innovation is at the very top of our list and moving our marine business into the marine and yachting industry cluster of Southampton reflects that priority,” he explains. “Our new marine headquarters from the autumn will be co-located with the University of Southampton and we will be right beside their naval architecture, engineering, towing tank and wind tunnel resources and expertise.
“Speaking more broadly, the requirements of regulators – and sometimes statutory requirements that we have to enforce - may seem rigid and sometimes makes the introduction of new technology a real challenge. But regulators are looking for assurance that any risks are being effectively mitigated. Likewise, during a build, the commercial interests of owners, builders, sub-contractors and equipment suppliers may not necessarily be aligned and class can find itself in the middle of some commercial ‘negotiations’ on differences. Our responsibilities prioritise safety and we have to survey and be responsible for classification throughout a yacht’s lifetime. I think we are getting much better at taking a risk based approach to solving issues with innovation to ensure that safety and regulatory issues can be met to our satisfaction. We are also involved with a wide variety of wind propulsion for cargo ship projects where there is a cross-over between what yacht designers are doing and the interests of those looking to harness the power of the wind for cargo ship innovation.”