What’s the Deal with ABS Steel?

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is a classification society formed in 1862 with a mission to create safety and environmental standards for ships, port and sea structures, and off-shore oil drilling sites. A rigid set of standards called the ABS Rules serve as guidelines for new shipbuilding and examining the safety and environmental hazards of existing ships and buildings.

When the ABS was first established, it created standards to govern the safety of wooden ships. These standards were replaced in 1870 with standards for iron building material. In 1890, steel became the preferred material, and the ABS steel standards were put into place. These standards still exist today in a much updated form that is published annually. Although the ABS is most known for its inspection of ships and structures, one of its most important functions is that of classifying the building material itself, including ABS grade steel, the most common material used in shipbuilding. All ABS grade steel must be incredibly durable standard carbon steel, i.e. made only with iron and carbon and no other alloying materials. They also have a specific gravity (a density ratio) of 7.8. Although the ABS does allow other types of steel to be used for ships, the standards are incredibly rigid and shipbuilders will need extra documentation and research for ABS approval.

There are two types of ABS grade steel, and they are differentiated by their yield point and ultimate tensile strength. Yield point is the amount of pressure at which a material begins to lose its shape. Ultimate tensile strength (UTS) is the amount of pressure the steel can undergo before its cross section begins to stretch, significantly altering the stability of the material. Both yield point and UTS are measured in pounds per square inch, or psi, which marks the force caused by one pound of pressure on one square inch of material. Ordinary-strength ABS grade steel comes in grades A, B, D, E, DS, and CS. These grades have a yield point of 34,000 psi and an ordinary tensile strength of 58,000 to 71,000 psi, with a few exceptions. Higher-strength ABS grade steel is divided into six grades and two strengths: AH32, DH32, EH32, AH36, DH36, and EH36. The 32 grade steels have a 45,500 psi yield strength and a UTS of 64,000 to 85,000 psi, while the 36 grade steels have a 51,000 psi yield strength and a UTS of 71,000 to 90,000 psi. Visit Ranger Steel for detail information ABS grade steel.

With the exacting and highly scientific standards that the American Bureau of Shipping puts into place for its materials, ABS grade steel is possibly the safest and most effective material to use in shipbuilding. It guarantees durability and encourages physical safety for all on board a ship and environmental safety for the ocean around it.

Ranger Steel has supplied North America’s ABS grade steel needs for more than 50 years. Quality products, competitive pricing, and on-time delivery are hallmarks of the way Ranger Steel does business. Call Ranger Steel today at 800-231-5014 or visit us online at

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