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WISTA event – dual role of flag states

Shipowners call on flag states to assist them in the interpretation of rules and regulations and to provide technical support a meeting in London of Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) UK heard.

John Ramage, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of International Registries, Inc. (IRI), which provides administrative and technical support to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime and Corporate Registries, said this is all part of the quality of service that owners demand when choosing where to register ships.

When choosing a flag, owners might look at port state control (PSC) performance,” he said. “I have to question why anyone would pick a flag on the black list. In many cases, open registries are able to provide a more flexible and customer focused service which is free from the bureaucracy of government departments.”

Flag States have a dual role; they provide support and assistance to owners but also have a role as administrator and enforcer of rules and regulations,” he continued.

IRI, which hosted the meeting at its London office, has seen discussed the RMI Registry’s 11% growth year-over-year in recent years, growing to nearly 160 million gross tons (GT) by the end of 2017. The average age of the fleet is less than nine years, with 50% of ships coming into the RMI Registry as newbuildings, which keeps the average age down.

Bulk carriers now make up the largest percentage of the RMI fleet, taking over from tankers, followed by container ships, gas carriers, and other vessel types, including passenger vessels. The main nationality represented in the RMI fleet’s vessel ownership is Greece, followed by the United States, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Japan, Germany, and Singapore.

Elizabeth Bouchard, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Administration, IRI, explained the RMI’s role in ratifying, implementing, and enforcing international legislation, principally from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

RMI delegates attend between 30-35 IMO meetings a year, making the RMI an active and responsive participant,” she said.

And she pointed out: “The ability of Member States to implement the international requirements depends, in part, on the ‘nimbleness’ of the government structure.”

With respect to seafarers’ documentation, Hetty Pugh, IRI’s Seafarers’ Documentation Manager commented, “RMI has implemented various robust measures to counter fraud, including the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. National authorities are also contacted to verify the certification of the applicants.”

The goal is to undertake processing of seafarer documents in less than 45 days and in the interim a temporary certificate, which is valid for 90 days, is issued. In London, processing is currently completed at around 24 days,” she added.

The relationship between flag States and Classification Societies (Class) or other Recognized Organizations was outlined by John Taverner, General Manager, IRI.

Statutory certificates issued by flag States and Class are inextricably linked and one cannot be issued without the other,” he said.

In addition, an international network of surveyors and offices is needed to provide services to today's shipping fleet, where ships may rarely, if ever, visit the country of registration,” he continued.

Flag state inspections make a valuable contribution to dealing with problems on board before they become a PSC issue,” he added.

More than 35 WISTA UK members attended the lunchtime session. The audience included three members from WISTA Turkey, as all WISTA members are entitled to attend any national WISTA organisation meeting.

The next meeting of WISTA UK will be in London on 18 January, where Sarah Hutley from the Maritime HR Association (part of HR Consulting from Spinnaker Global) will present the 2017 pay gap statistics for the UK’s shore-based maritime workforce. Challenges faced by women in the industry and possible solutions will be discussed. You can book tickets here:

  • Picture shows L-R Hetty Pugh, IRI; Sue Terpilowski, WISTA UK President; Elizabeth Bouchard, John Ramage and John Taverner of IRI; Bridget Hogan, WISTA UK Secretary, and Teresa Peacock, WISTA UK Membership Secretary.

For more information abourt WISTA visit or email [email protected]

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