MMA Grad at the Helm

John McDonald ’93 and innovation at the American Bureau of Shipping

McDonald picture

ABS Exec. VP and COO John McDonald

In the first months of the Civil War, representatives of the nation’s leading maritime insurance companies gathered in New York City with many prominent American shipowners, shipmasters, shipbuilders, and merchants and, in October 1861, formed the American Shipmasters Association, forerunner of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

The principal mission of the Association was “to promote the security of life and property on the seas.” To further that mission, the Association would “encourage worthy and well qualified commanders and other ship’s officers,” keep records of their “accomplishments,” and provide “shipowners, shipbuilders, underwriters, shippers and all those interested in maritime commerce” with “a faithful and accurate classification and registry of mercantile shipping.”

Now, in the 21st century, “The mission of ABS is,” according to the organization’s Annual Review, “to serve the public interest as well as the needs of our clients by promoting the security of life and property and protecting the natural environment.”

ABS currently has more than 4,000 employees located around the world. The company is one of the leading providers of classification and technical advisory services to the maritime and offshore industries throughout the world, establishing and advising on safety standards for design, construction and operation of vessels and structures. Through 2022, its classed fleet totaled some 280 million gross tons. ABS works closely with industry, adhering to its mission and safety-centric strategy and using its expertise to create opportunities and value for the company’s clients. ABS continues to grow and perform at world-class levels as the safety conscience of the industry.

The shipping and offshore industries are in the midst of dynamic change marked by the clean energy transition, digitalization, post-COVID recovery, and geopolitics.

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