American Bureau of Shipping [ABS] Law and Legal Definition

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is a tax-exempt non-governmental organization of marine underwriters, shipbuilders, and marine carriers founded in 1862. It conducts research, develops technology, conducts officer training, and sets standards of building, maintaining, and operating seagoing vessels and stationary offshore facilities. Its core mission is to promulgate rules for evaluating the design of new vessels and structures and for maintaining all existing vessels and structures. ABS has been commissioned by the U.S. government and the U.S. Coast Guard to act in many maritime matters that relate directly to the safety of life and property at sea. ABS also supplies similar services on behalf of more than 100 maritime flag States globally.

Initially ABS was known as American Shipbuilders' Association. Its name was changed in 1898, and it was formally recognized in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.