Entity for the Quality Assessment and Certification of Organisations Recognised by the European Union CIC


The Board

The QACE Board comprises of industry experts from the major marine interest groups, ship builders, owners and flag Administrations, but also different geographic regions. The Board members have no current affiliation with the Recognised Organisations.

Ashok Mahapatra

Board Member Since 2019, Chairman Since 2021

Ashok joined QACE in January 2019, bringing a lot of experience to the Organisation. He began his career as a cadet working up to the level of being a Master on foreign going ships in the Merchant Navy. This followed with many years as a Surveyor with the Indian Maritime Administration. Ashok has also been the Deputy Nautical Adviser to the Government of India. Thereafter, he has worked at the IMO in the Maritime Safety Division from 1998 to 2017. He was the Director of the Maritime Safety Division of IMO from 2015 to 2017.

Niels-Bjørn Mortensen​

Board Member Since 2019

Niels-Bjørn joined QACE in January 2019, his career having covered many aspects of the marine industry at sea and on land. After his sea time for East Asiatic Company as deck officer, he qualified as naval architect which took him to head the Burmeister & Wain Shipyard design office at a time when large numbers of tankers, OBOs and bulk carriers were designed and built at the yard. Worked for BIMCO as a technical consultant and then as Head of the Marine Department. Niels-Bjørn has had various roles from Vice Chairman of the IACS Advisory Committee (QSCS), member of the Korean Register European Committee and Lloyd’s Register’s Technical Committee. In 2010 he became Director of Regulatory Affairs in Maersk Maritime Technology and chaired the Technical Committee of the Danish Shipowners’ Association from 2013 to 2016.

Peter Hinchliffe OBE

Board Member Since 2022

Peter enjoyed a first career in the British Royal Navy, that included over 20 years at sea and 5 years in command of submarines. He joined the International Chamber of Shipping in 2001 where he led ICS representation on maritime safety, security and environmental issues at the IMO and elsewhere. He served as Secretary General of ICS from 2010 until 2018 when he retired. Peter is now working as an independent maritime consultant for a number of clients predominantly on the environmental performance of shipping, security and migrant protection.Peter is a Fellow of the Nautical Institute and chairs the NI Executive Board. He is a Younger Brother of Trinity House and Honorary Fellow of the World Maritime University. He was awarded the IMO International Maritime Prize for 2019.

The Secretariat

The Board has appointed an Executive Secretary to manage the assessment and certification of the Recognised Organisations; a Company Secretary to oversee QACE’s corporate operations; and an Administration Manager.

Anantha Padmanabhan

Executive Secretary

Ananth joined QACE on 15 June 2020. He has a wealth of experience in all aspects of Ship Classification Societies and Statutory services of Recognised Organisations (RO), having worked for three different Class Societies in his past career. He has been involved with Quality Management for the past 22 years in various roles and capacities. He has represented all of the three Class Societies in the Quality Committee of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) for 15 years, and he was its Vice-Chairman for 3 years. He was the GL Representative in the RO Group that established QACE. In the last year immediately prior to joining QACE, he has worked as an auditor for three different Accredited Certification Bodies now engaged in the certification of the Class Societies/ROs.

Dr Nikos Mikelis

Company Secretary

Nikos has worked in ship classification; and then for a shipping company as superintendent, technical manager and director. He joined the International Maritime Organization in 2006, where he was the Head of Marine Pollution Prevention and Ship Recycling section.

Nikos has served in senior positions in various shipping industry bodies, has written over 50 papers, numerous articles in the maritime press and is a freeman of the City of London.

Matina Biniakou

Administration Manager

Matina joined QACE in September 2021. She has extensive experience in different business areas as well as a Bachelor degree in Maritime Business and an ongoing Master Degree in Financial Trading. She is responsible for QACE’s smooth day to day administrative and operational activities.

QACE Assessors

QACE contracts Assessors to execute the assessment programme. The Assessors are experienced maritime professionals drawn from different geographic regions.

Tim Ho

QACE Assessor

Tim joined QACE in 2015. He has extensive experience with the IACS QSCS scheme and with Statutory and Classification survey, Management System audit, and advisory services. Tim has devoted most of his time in training activities, lecturing at University, practical training for Flag Surveyors and PSCOs, and seafarers’ training based on the STCW Convention and IMO model courses.

Captain Hartmut Nickel

QACE Assessor

Hartmut joined the QACE team in 2014 from the German flag State Administration. Hartmut has long and varied experience most recently as a German flag state surveyor, senior Port State control officer, ISM / ISO 9000 lead auditor and MLC inspector to the German Ship Safety Department. He has been involved with RO oversight for the Administration.

Abhay Shah

QACE Assessor

Abhay joined the QACE team in January 2020 following 20 years with Lloyd’s Register where he held senior governance, assurance and improvement positions at both a global and regional level. Abhay has a background in technical performance highlights include responsibility for a transformation programme that helped improve ship maintenance and awareness of common deficiencies, through pre-arrival checklist booklets, now widely used by the marine industry. He was heavily involved with internal and external audit and was responsible for introducing both risk-based and remote ISO audit methods.

Priyabrata Patnaik

QACE Assessor

Priyabrata (Pat) Patnaik joined QACE in 2022 with 45+ years of experience with compliance, risk and consultancy services in the marine industry. He worked with Lloyd’s Register (LR) across a range of their global offices over three decades. He leveraged his expertise in class and statutory services to serve as the chairman of the Devolved Classification Executive of the Americas chapter and as LR’s Technical Performance Manager (TPM) for the Americas and an internal auditor. As the TPM, he was responsible for ensuring the services delivered met LR’s quality objectives as well as IMO, various flag state and other regulatory requirements. Trained as a naval architect, he has experience in ship design, ship building, classification and statutory compliance, and all technical aspects of new building projects. He is an experienced ISM/ISPS/MLC auditor

Chen Wang

QACE Assessor

Chen Wang joined the QACE team in November 2022 upon retiring from the China Classification Society. He has extensive experience with the IACS QSCS scheme, with EU Reg.391/2009, and with Statutory and Classification survey for new constructions and ships in service, and chaired IACS Statutory Panel from Jan 2008 to Dec 2010.

Chitta Dash

QACE Assessor

Chitta joined QACE in 2022 with 42+ years of experience in maritime industry, areas of expertise being Classification and Statutory Survey & Certification, Audit/Assessment, Training, Consultancy services, New Construction Project Management, Operations and Quality & HSE Management. He worked with Lloyd’s Register (LR) for over 30 years and was LR’s Area General Manager and Marine Business Manager for South West Asia Area. He is an experienced ISM/ISPS/ISO Auditor. A marine engineer by profession, Chitta sailed as Chief Engineer on Merchant ships. He is a Fellow of The Institute of Marine Engineers (India) and Member of The Indian Society for Nondestructive Testing.

Frankie Ho

QACE Assessor

Frankie joined QACE in 2022 after retiring from DNV. His roles in his 41 years in DNV included site survey, site audit, operation management and quality & safety management roles. Frankie focused particularly on quality & safety in his later career, and was the global head of quality & safety in DNV Maritime. He has worked in Norway, Denmark, Japan, Greater China, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Germany.



Steve Blair

QACE Assessor

Steve joined QACE in 2023, following a twenty-year career with a major classification society culminated in the position of Director, Business Development – Management Systems Certification. Prior to this Steve was Head of Management Systems Certification, from 2000 to 2015. During this time, he was accountable for the certification of client companies and their ships in meeting the requirements of the ISM Code, ISPS Code, ISO 9000, ISO 14000, ISO 45001, and ISO 50001 standards. Steve is an ex-student of the College of Nautical Studies, Warsash, Southampton, and is an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute and a Freeman of The Honourable Company of Master Mariners.



Nico van Wijk

QACE Assessor

Nico joined QACE in November 2023. Nico has some 40 years working experience in the maritime industry in both private and public sector. After a career as marine engineer serving on merchant ships of various types, he started working in 1989 as a surveyor for an independent marine survey company based in Rotterdam. In 1999 he joined the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate where he was, amongst others, involved in the monitoring and oversight of classification societies acting on behalf of the Netherlands. In 2004 joined the Lisbon-based European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) where he was responsible for the inspection and assessment programme of classification societies recognised by the European Commission. Nico retired from EMSA in 2021.



Accredited Certification Bodies

QACE, as part of its certification process, utilises the services of the following Accredited Certification Bodies (ACB) to audit the quality management systems of the Recognised Organisations: