Merchant vessels plying international waters carry flags of the states where they are registered. The Flag State provides the nationality of the vessel and the jurisdiction under whose laws the vessel is registered or licensed. It has the authority and responsibility to enforce national and international regulations including those under IMO and the Law of the Sea.

“The core function of a ship registry is to ensure compliance with national and international regulations and conventions applicable to ships registered in their country,” explains Nick Sansom, Chief Business Development Officer of the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority.

He adds that “Bermuda goes a step further in providing solution-based support to help shipowners comply and meet port state requirements through having its own experienced staff of former chief engineers, captains and naval architects with a deep understanding of clients’ operations and requirements. This is reflected in Bermuda’s top five position on the Paris MOU list and membership in the USCG’s QUALSHIP 21 program.”

The register of vessels maintained by the Flag State allows owners to register ownership and lenders to register securities held on the vessels.

Under the principle of Port State Control (PSC), vessels must also comply with the laws and regulations of the ports in the countries they call at. PSC operates under the purview of the Paris and Tokyo MOUs, whose principal goal is to eliminate the operation of substandard ships through a harmonized system of regulations and requirements.

FOCs – Flags of Convenience or Compliance?

An open registry is one where the vessel’s owner is in a country other than the Flag State and where seafarers of any nationality may be used aboard its ships.

One of the oldest and most reputable open registries is the U.K. Ship Register (UKSR), part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

“The UKSR is an international register with eligibility available to over 120 countries and, as a government entity, there is no profit-making agenda,” says Katy Ware, Director of UK Maritime Services and Permanent Representative of the U.K. at the IMO. “The focus is on the safety of ships and seafarers and the impact on the environment. Those sailing under the U.K. flag know their safety is the top priority regardless of whether a vessel is domestically or internationally operated.”

There’s considerable misunderstanding regarding use of the term “Flags of Convenience,” which was coined as a pejorative phrase several decades ago when there was a shift from traditional maritime nations and national flags such as the U.S. and European flags to the open registries of nations like Panama and Liberia.

The term was used to describe all ship registries that operate as an open registry as opposed to a closed or domestic registry, i.e., one that only allows national companies to register vessels. The implication was that these were substandard and unsafe registries used solely to skirt safety rules and prevent owners from needing to provide for their crews – falsehoods that have been refuted given the high rankings of many so-called “FOCs” versus national flags.

In the 2021 International Chamber of Shipping survey of vessel deficiencies identified by Flag States, vessels flying the flags of Panama, Liberia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) – the three most popular ship registries – along with many others operating on an open registry basis scored positive results and are included on the Tokyo MOU and Paris MOU White Lists as well as the USCG’s QUALSHIP 21 program, often ranking higher than many traditional national flags.

RMI is the only registry in the world to achieve 17 consecutive years of recognition by the USCG’s QUALSHIP 21 program.

Alfonso Castillero, Chief Operating Officer of the Liberian Registry, says: “Ship registries have a great responsibility to ensure that the vessels flying their flag are fully compliant with the national and international regulations and conventions to which that State is a party. This high commitment to compliance and safety should not be confused with the demonized word “convenience,” used by those who push the archaic ‘Flag of Convenience’         line. The proof is in the Port State Control rankings. These so-called FOCs are actually ‘Flags of Compliance.’ Those who actually understand the maritime industry already know this fact well.”

Bill Gallagher, President of International Registries/RMI, adds, “The RMI registry, the youngest and greenest in the world (more than 50 percent of RMI’s gross tonnage uses green technology as categorized by Clarksons) and the best performer in PSC rankings of the top 10, has invested heavily in technical resources worldwide to provide its hallmark service and support to the industry as it continues to innovate and change.”

Each registry brings unique propositions to shipowners. Panos Kirnidis, CEO of the Palau International Ship Registry (PISR), a relative newcomer founded in 2012, says its proprietary software platform (ePISR) allows speedy same-day electronic delivery of certificates and documentation for its vessels. Additionally, its Deficiency Prevention System assists vessels prior to and during a PSC inspection.

Cabotage and the Jones Act

Most countries (e.g., the U.S., Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia among others) protect their domestic shipping by confining domestic shipping routes to only those vessels flying their flags. This is called cabotage, and it’s implemented under the countries’ merchant shipping laws. In the U.S., cabotage is enforced under the Jones Act.

Benedict Oregbemhe of Benfield Attorneys Nigeria notes that a peculiarity of the Nigerian cabotage regime is that the vessel must be built in Nigeria. Indonesia’s regime covers Indonesian-registered vessels with domestic ownership requirements but also covers specified commodities.

Nicole Andrescavage of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith in the U.S. explains that the Jones Act generally requires that vessels engaged in domestic trade be built and flagged in the U.S. and owned by U.S. citizens. The law also limits foreign repair work and sets requirements for crew: All officers and three-fourths of crew members must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Different aspects of the Jones Act are enforced by both the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs & Border Protection.

Katy Ware says that, since withdrawing from the E.U., the U.K. has maintained an open coast policy and places no restrictions on foreign vessels conducting maritime cabotage operations within its waters.

Some Flag States register bareboat charters, e.g., Singapore, U.K., Italy. In the U.S., according to Andrescavage, these registrations are slightly different as the owner’s Flag State has permanent oversight over its vessels. For bareboat charter registration to take place, the owner’s Flag State must suspend its registration for the duration of the charter.

Green Shipping

“We believe Flag States have an important role to play in promoting green shipping and helping the industry meet IMO environmental targets,” says Cameron Mitchell, Director of the Isle of Man Ship Registry. “It’s our collective responsibility to respond to the climate emergency by taking action to effect real change for the benefit of our environment and industry. The Getting to Zero Coalition brings together a diverse range of organizations, and we look forward to working closely with them to help make commercially viable, zero-emission vessels a scalable reality.”

Mitchell could be speaking for many others as well as ship registries up their game and take ownership of their role in bringing about sustainable change.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority registered Carnival’s Mardi Gras, the first LNG-powered cruise ship operating in the Americas. LNG-powered vessels feature less energy consumption and leave a much smaller environmental footprint than traditional diesel-powered ships.

“Innovation is key to a Flag’s maintaining its status,” says Katy Ware. “The UK Ship Register is acutely aware of the need – and growing desire in the industry – for more sustainable shipping technology, and we’re working towards achieving this with our dedicated Maritime Future Technologies team.”

Philip Teoh is an international lawyer and maritime arbitrator based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and a frequent contributor to The Maritime Executive.


Source: maritime-executive

Construction of China’s first domestically built large cruise ship marked a key milestone in mid-September as structural work was completed. Assembly for the 135,500 gross ton cruise ship began in November 2020 with construction scheduled to be completed in 2023.

The cruise ship is being built at China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. for a joint venture between CSSC and Carnival Corporation. It marks the first large cruise ship to be built in China. Fincantieri is advising the Chinese shipyard on the unique elements of cruise ship construction. The cruise ship and a sister ship due for delivery the following year are both based on Carnival Cruise Line’s Vista class ship with some modifications for the Chinese domestic market.

The final pre-assembly placed on the unnamed cruise ship included the deckhouse and funnel for the vessel. According to SWS the assembly measured approximately 115 feet by 85 feet and was made up of six steel sections along with one aluminum alloy section. Standing nearly 79 feet, the shipyard said it was a complicated installation as “the center of gravity of the total section is high and the hosting point is low.” The assembly required an “extremely high hoisting,” after careful planning and was successfully fitted to the ship. It was the last penetration into the ship to be completed.


Source: maritime-executive

We have been working to develop a nationally consistent and simplified qualifications framework that is relevant to a wide range of roles and operations, while maintaining safety standards.

We are now in the final stages of completing the review, preparing guidelines, transitional arrangements and related amendments to other legislative instruments.

We now invite industry to provide feedback on the proposed final draft marine order and the supporting guidelines.

The draft marine order contains a range of changes – some of which are a result of feedback industry provided during the 2019 consultation. Areas that have changed as a result of feedback in 2019 include:

  • clarifying the operating limits and minimum training requirements to obtain a Coxswain Grade 3 Near Coastal certificate of competency (CoC)
  • applying appropriate eligibility requirements and duties for the General Purpose Hand Near Coastal CoC
  • detailing sea service requirements, including obtaining a CoC with and without a task book.

Following this final consultation, we aim to have the new domestic commercial vessel qualifications framework and amended Marine order 505 finalised, and ready to come into effect in 2022 with a suitable transition period.


Source: amsa


Bureau Veritas has issued novel design approval for what will be the world’s largest Very Large Gas Carriers (VLGCS).

The ‘Panda 93P’ VLGC design has been developed by Jiangnan Shipyard, a leading Chinese gas carrier builder in the CSSC Group (China State Shipbuilding Corporation). Sinogas, the Singapore-based gas shipowner has placed a firm order for two of the 93,000m3 VLGCs, with options for three more vessels. On delivery, these ships will be the largest VLGCs in the world and they will be powered by liquefied petroleum gas. The delivery of these gas carriers, principally dedicated to the carriage of LPG, is scheduled for the first half of 2023 and will mark a further technological leap for Jiangnan in its development of new gas carrier concepts in long-term collaboration with Bureau Veritas.

Jiangnan Shipyard has now completed a significant number of projects in cooperation with BV during the last two decades – and most notably for gas carriers. The Sinogas order is a significant milestone for both shipyard and class society on the journey to a decarbonized industry. Once in operation, the new design will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 32% less in comparison with the previous generation of 84,000m3 VLGCs powered by low-sulphur fuel oil. This dramatic reduction reflects the highly optimized design and economies of scale, as well as the use of LPG as fuel.

The design is an evolution of Jiangnan’s “Panda” Series of VLGCs with optimised hull-form to allow increased cargo capacity without significant increases in fuel consumption. The design incorporates two deck-mounted LPG fuel tanks, enabling LPG-fuelled operations when carrying non-LPG cargo.

A scheduled review of IMO policy measures could result in more stringent emissions targets, said Jiangnan Shipyard’s Hu Keyi, Chief of Corporate Technology. He believes gas as fuel will be a reliable pathway to bridge the emission gap. “Furthermore, Jiangnan aims to be on the cutting-edge of technological development in this field by pushing for “initiative green” solutions, as opposed to “passive green” based on existing technology.” Hu further explained that the “Panda 93P” builds on Jiangnan’s tradition of “Innovation with Confidence” in the design of gas carriers at the Jiangnan Institute of Technology (JIT), supported by engineering and design expertise from classification societies, like Bureau Veritas.


“Through a revolutionary structural configuration, Jiangnan has been able to enhance cargo capacity within traditional “Houston Ship Channel” dimensions without significantly increasing fuel consumption”, Hu said.

This achievement has been realised by the Jiangnan team’s use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for hull line optimisation. Jiangnan also adopted smart shipbuilding techniques with the use of digital technology, 3D digital mock-ups, 3D model submission and production planning, erection simulation and lifecycle management.

Hu continued: ““As the strategy of forthcoming transition in marine industry, Jiangnan has positioned itself to establish a multiple party program focused on a fully circular approach to the management of gas-fuelled green ships. Definitely, we will invite Bureau Veritas’ involvement in this program. We think the future maritime industry will be dependent on momentum for continued innovation through increased studies of disruptive technologies and non-traditional materials. Decarbonization is not only the responsibility of shipbuilding and shipping, it will need collaboration across the value chain. More stakeholders need to be involved.”

Alex Gregg-Smith, Senior Vice President & Chief Executive, North Asia & China, at Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore said: “Bureau Veritas has had many successful projects with Jiangnan Shipyard, especially in gas carrier segment, during the past decades. This new generation of VLGCs establishes a significant milestone towards decarbonization. At BV, we are now more than ever committed to helping in the reduction of our industry’s environmental impact, as well as supporting our stakeholders through their unique sustainability journey.”


Source: shipinsight

Cyprus-based shipping company Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited was sentenced this week in U.S. federal court to a $2 million fine for concealing illegal discharges of oily water from one of its vessels in the Atlantic Ocean.

Diana Wilhelmsen Management was formed in 2015 and is a 50/50 joint venture between Diana Shipping Inc. and Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Beach Smith in Norfolk, Virginia handed down the sentence after the company pleaded guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships that had occurred on the bulk carrier MV Protefs. In addition to the fine, the company has been placed on probation for a period of four years and ordered to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation.

The company pleaded guilty to two felony offenses in two judicial districts – the Eastern District of Virginia and the Eastern District of Louisiana.

In pleading guilty, Diana Wilhelmsen Management admitted that crew members onboard the Protefs, a 40,230 gross-ton, 738-foot ocean-going commercial bulk carrier, knowingly failed to record in the vessel’s oil record book the overboard discharge of oily bilge water from mid-April 2020 until before the vessel arrived in Newport News, Virginia, in June of 2020. The vessel also arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 1, 2020 with a knowingly false oil record book.

The company admitted that the crew on the vessel used an emergency de-watering system to illegally discharge oily water directly into the ocean from the vessel’s bilge holding tank, duct keel and bilge wells. The discharges were then not recorded in the oil record book as required.

The Chief Engineer, Vener Dailisan, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the existence of a Sounding Log which is routinely sought by inspectors in order to ascertain the accuracy of the oil record book. Dailisan was sentenced to a fine of $3,000 and placed on probation for two years.

“The United States will vigorously enforce laws that protect our ocean resources,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Holding shipping companies to account when wastes are unlawfully discharged overboard, and covered up through falsified documents, is vital to protecting our environment.”


Source: gcaptain

For almost three months now, the spot freight rate for containerized goods shipped by sea from North Europe to the U.S. East Coast has been 210% higher than last year (July 1 – September 23), according to shipping organization BIMCO.

It wasn’t until April 1, 2021 that we saw the ripple effects from the globally stretched supply chains impacting front-haul freight rates on the Transatlantic container shipping trade lane. At that time, spot freight rates for a 40-foot container jumped 52% from $2,329 to $3,544 on average for the trade lane. The Transatlantic average spot rates continued to climb, reaching $5,798 per FEU on July 1 before flatlining just south of $6,000 reaching $5,893 per FEU on September 23, 2021.

“In addition to the ripple effects from stretched global supply chains, strong demand from U.S. consumers also contributed to the hike in spot rates on this trade,” said Peter Sand, BIMCO’s Chief Shipping Analyst.

“Imports to North America from Europe have increased by little more than 500,000 TEU from last year and liner operators have responded by deploying significantly more capacity on that trade,” Sand said.

Demand and deployed capacity sharply up
During the first seven months of 2021, 3,292,000 loaded TEUs were moved from Europe to North America (source: CTS). That’s 500,000 TEU more than the same period last year, representing a growth rate of 18.5%. Comparing 2021 to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, growth is up by 14.5% as demand only fell 7.5% from 2019 to 2020.

In a bid to match container shipping capacity to the higher demand, liner companies added 21.4% of cargo carrying capacity in the 12 months from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021.


Source: marinelink


The above named vessel was detained in Rostov-on-Don (Russian Federation) on 2 September 2021. This is the third  detention in the Paris MoU region within the last 36 months. The ship flies the flag of Comoros, which is black on the current Paris MoU WGB list.

Therefore under the provisions of section 4 of the Paris MoU, Article 16 of EU Council Directive 2009/16/EC, the ship will be refused further access to any port and anchorage in the Paris MOU region, except a port and anchorage of the ship’s flag State. This refusal of access will become applicable immediately after the ship is authorized to leave this port and anchorage.

As this is the first refusal of access order, the period of the refusal of access will be 3 months.

Your attention is drawn to the provisions of Section 4.4 of the Paris MOU, Article 21.6 of EU Council Directive 2009/16/EC1, which allow access to a specific port and anchorage in the event of force majeure or overriding safety considerations, or to reduce or minimize the risk of pollution or to have deficiencies rectified, provided that adequate measures to the satisfaction of the competent authority of such State have been implemented by the company or the master of the ship to ensure safe entry.


Source: parismou


Cargo ship is under detention at Terneuzen Netherlands since arrival on Sep 18. Ship’s course alerted Scheltd Coordination Center on Sep 18, because she was sailing towards Borssele wind farm, with no signs of changing course. Attempts to find out what’s going on failed, because as it turned out later, Captain of Azerbaijan nationality didn’t speak English well enough to understand, though he finally, reacted to a direct order to immediately change the course. The ship berthed at Terneuzen same day, and was checked. Inspection found a number of deficiencies, including outdated (understood downloaded from open sources) electronic charts without among other things, navigational buoys; Captain and officers lack of navigational and communication skills (paper charts weren’t used), they also couldn’t make stability calculations. The ship wasn’t identified except that she’s Vanuatu-flagged, but according to AIS data, she should be general cargo ship MY REYHAN, ex- SEAKESTREL, renamed shortly before this incident, probably in September.


Source: fleetmon

On the 13th September 2021 the Merchant Shipping Directorate of Transport Malta issued Merchant Shipping Notice 173 highlighting the launch of a joint Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) on ship stability by the Member Authorities of the Tokyo and the Paris Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on Port State Control (PSC). The purpose of the campaign is to confirm:

  • that commercial ship crew are familiar with assessing the actual stability of the ship before its departure;
  • to create awareness among the ship’s crew and owners about the importance of calculating the actual stability condition of the ship before departure of the ship; and
  • to verify that the ship complies with intact stability requirements (and damage stability requirements, if applicable) under the relevant IMO instruments.

This CIC campaign will be held for a period of three months until 30 November 2021 and a ship will be subject to only one inspection for the duration of the campaign. in preparation of any PSC inspection, the master and officers are to be familiar with operations relating to stability (in general) and with the joint CIC questionnaire, a pre-defined questionnaire used to assess that information and equipment provided onboard complies with the relevant conventions.

Should deficiencies be found, actions by the port State may include:

  • recording a deficiency and instructing the master to rectify it within a certain period of time; or
  • detaining the ship until the serious deficiencies have been rectified.

Commercial Yachts are also included in the CIC should there be a PSC Inspection and consequently it is essential that commercial yacht operators ensure all concerned are prepared accordingly.

In the case of detention, publication in the monthly detention lists of the Tokyo and Paris MoU websites will take place. In addition, the Flag Administration is to be duly notified and a copy of the PSC report submitted to the Administration.

Subject to any COVID-19 developments it is expected that the Tokyo and Paris MoUs will carry out approximately 10,000 inspections during the CIC, while the results of the campaign will be analysed and findings presented to the governing bodies of both MoUs for submission to the IMO.


Source: lexology


In the process this almost runs contrary to the previous view of seafarers as being commodities noted panel chairman, National Maritime Museum director and ex-Euronav ceo Paddy Rodgers. Which really brings the whole problem into focus, as recognised by Columbia Ship Management ceo Mark O’Neil, who said: “Expectations have changed and the shift of power has changed from employer to employee.”

Being billed as a session on how to rebuild trust, relationships and reputation gives an idea as to how serious an issue Covid has been for the industry over the past 18 months and the potential long-term effects on talent management.

Many examples of these were highlighted. The tremendous disruption emphasised the importance of communication while also bringing to the fore the shore-to-sea equation and the remote nature of the business, said Pacific Carriers Ltd ceo Hor Weng Yew.

The question going forward is how to enhance and intensify this communication in the face of disruption to our lives, he said while reiterating that trust is key to building this up.

While O’Neil slammed the industry for failing its seafarers, others pointed out that the shipping industry has been somewhat limited in what it can do because of external factors such as the hesitation of governments and port authorities.

This “debilitating sense of losing control of your own destiny”, according to Mission to Seafarers secretary general Andrew Wright has undermined trust greatly.

“You lose a lot of predictability because of Covid,” said V Group ship management ceo Bjoern Sprotte. The rapid and unpredictable changes at ports have made crew change planning a big challenge for both shore staff and seafarers and the situation has not really improved in many regions, he noted.

In this sense the inability of the industry to be able to address important issues with one voice has been a failing. “Shipping needs an urgent reflection on how to have a stronger voice and how we can sustain that visibility and energy to make sure seafarers have higher visibility in the future,” said Wright.

Another shortcoming has been the limited ability to deal with the issue of how families can cope with the situation while their loved ones are stuck out at sea. Where seafarers have not had access to contact with their families it has been difficult for family members and more work needs to be done to address this, said Wright.

Noting that these sorts of issues did not exist before Covid because seatime was relatively fixed and predictable, O’Neil said the most important thing the industry has realised from the Covid crisis was that the people around us are the most important thing, and this represents a fundamental shift in thinking.

However, what it has also shown up is the industry’s lack of proper human resource management and how far behind other industries it is in this respect. While some efforts have been made previously, these have slipped.

“This could be a great moment for the development of our people but we need to make sure the lessons learnt from the pandemic don’t get lost,” concluded Wright.


Source: seatrade-maritime


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