New shipbuilds exhaust IMO ship identification numbers

Photo: Reuters

As reported by Alphaliner, and unnoticed by many, the shipping world has seen a major milestone pass, when an order for a Hyundai Samho LNG tanker was assigned the highest possible seven-digit IMO Number.

The Korean shipyard’s hull 8207, scheduled for delivery in 2027, will go into operation under IMO number ‘9999993’.

Since the central IMO number only has six digits and the ‘3’ is a check digit calculated from the other six numbers, ‘9999993’ is the highest possible value that will ever be assigned to a ship.
The IMO number was adopted in 1987, based on the pre-existing Lloyd’s Register number which was first published in 1963.

Initially, the first two digits of this number corresponded to the years of construction of the ships, but this practice was later abandoned. Instead, IMO and Lloyd’s have just issued consecutive numbers of six digits plus a check digit.

Since the oldest numbers date from the 1950s and 1960s, IMO has now resorted to assigning “low” IMO numbers beginning with “1” to new orders.

Numbers such as IMO 1013353 and IMO 1013365, assigned to two 5,900 TEU container ships recently ordered from Tsunseishi Zhoushan (see right) are therefore the “new normal”.

Source: Alphaliner

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