Bill Gallagher shares his thoughts on the continuing growth of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Registry, the challenges of ballast water management regulations and the importance of Qualship 21
Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to you all. At the end of another busy year for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry, I’d like to reflect on what makes our approach special and how this benefits shipowners, other industry stakeholders, and improves ship safety.
There is no doubt that our degree of localization makes us a unique registry. With 27 offices around the world and over 400 personnel, we service clients in their own time zones, simplifying daily operations and complex transactions. We are the world’s local flag.
In the early 1990s, when I was working as General Counsel of International Registries, Inc. (IRI) and traveling to Hong Kong, clients would often say they liked the RMI Registry, but struggled with accessibility and time zone differences. Today, we are completely accessible and international. These attributes, along with our responsiveness, all around expertise, and excellent reputation with authorities worldwide underpin our continuing growth.
We are also very proactive in our approach to global maritime policymaking, doing our utmost to balance regulation with reality and secure regulatory outcomes that our owners and operators can implement effectively.
Ballast Water Management (BWM) is on everyone’s minds at the moment. Listening to the questions posed by industry stakeholders at our seminar on BWM regulations in London this November, it was clear to me that the industry needs practical answers, fast. To ensure owners’ collective BWM concerns are dealt with and clearly heard at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), we have a dedicated BWM team, led by Simon Bonnet, Safety & Technical Manager (London), Richard Dias, Regional Technical Manager (Hong Kong), Rear Admiral Robert North, United States Coast Guard (Retired)/Consultant (Washington, DC/Reston), and Thanos Theocharis, Regulatory Affairs, European Liaison (Piraeus). They are able to give advice on any issues owners might have and are backed by well-resourced technical teams in our regional offices. Click here to read an article by Simon Bonnet, Safety & Technical Manager, looking at the legislation and what owners need to do.
I am especially proud of the RMI’s status as the only large commercial flag on the United States (US) Coast Guard’s (USCG’s) Qualship 21 Program. The Qualship 21 standard is tremendously difficult to meet, reflected in 13 out of 26 flags being dropped from the roster in March 2016. The RMI’s retention on Qualship 21 is the result of resourcing the boots on the deck program where the RMI Registry has more exclusive inspectors than other registries, keeping our in-house standards high, and ensuring vessels are prepared for USCG inspections. Click here to read an article with input from Brian Poskaitis, Senior Vice President, Fleet Operations.
The RMI’s Qualship 21 status and White List status on the Paris and Tokyo Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) means that RMI flagged ships are greeted amicably by port State control (PSC) Officers all over the world. The status is also indicative of the quality of our fleet and its owners and operators.
The RMI fleet is young, vibrant, and green. At the end of December 2016, the 4,011 vessels in our fleet had an average age of 8.55 years. We are constantly impressed by the standards of our owners and operators, and through close cooperation with them we are able to keep their ships moving and trading.
We look forward to continuing to serve our clients in the coming year and in the meantime wish everyone a very happy, healthy, and productive new year.