The Marshall Islands Registry is currently the fastest growing registry in the world with 14.3% growth this year, according to data from Clarksons. Hellenic ship owners have also come to reach first place in the registry, representing 25% of the overall
Registry's fleet. According to Mr. Theofilos Xenakoudis, Managing Director of Marshall Islands Registry in Piraeus this means that the Registry is now holding 12% of the Hellenic market , which is distributed among 47 flags, a significant achievement. "The Marshall Islands fleet continues to be among the youngest in the world with an average age of 8.8 years since 70% of the Registry's growth continues to come from newbuilds. As of the end of September 2010, the Registry had 2315 vessels and 63.4 million gross tons" said Mr. Xenakoudis.
According to latest news, from January 2011, the European Union (EU) will implement new port state control (PSC) rules. The new EU wide system will rely on an advanced information tool known as "THETIS" (operated by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). THETIS will track all safety inspections on ships carried out in ports in the EU and provide a risk analysis that will determine the frequency and priorities for inspections by the authorities of EU member states. The new rules will also see the introduction on from January next year, a new online register to "to name and shame" shipping companies that are performing poorly on port state controls inspections, while shipowners with strong safety records will be given good public visibility. How is Marshall Islands Registry viewing this initiative and what kind of quality measures will you implement in order to further improve the Registry's performance?
The Marshall Islands Registry views favorably and positively this new PSC scheme and looks forward to THETIS resulting in a safer global fleet. The Marshall Islands is already vetting every vessel applying for registration, and has a very well organized and effective internal inspection and quality assurance program that has resulted in multi-year white listing by the Paris and Tokyo MoUs and inclusion on the US Coast Guard's prestigious Qualship 21 roster. The Registry continues to expand its safety inspection program through the hiring of full-time nautical inspectors at its 20 worldwide offices. We have already a good network of exclusive inspectors located in US, Europe and Asia, as well as third party companies that do inspections on our behalf. All outsourced inspectors are selected under high standards and criteria and are continuously monitored and trained by the fleet operation managers based in the regional offices.
Could you give us the latest figures from the beginning of the year in terms of the Registry's development in numbers of ships and vessel types?
At the close of 2009, the Registry had 2102 vessels and 52.3 million gross tons. As of the end of September 2010, the Registry had 2315 vessels and 63.4 million gross tons. The fleet, in terms of gross tonnage, consists of 43% tankers, 27% bulk carriers, 12% gas carriers and 9% containerships. Other vessel types include general cargo, mobile offshore units and drilling units, passenger vessels, and yachts. The Marshall Islands fleet continues to be among the youngest in the world with an average age of 8.8 years since 70% of the Registry's growth continues to come from newbuilds.
How has the latest also challenging year for the shipping industry affected your business, compared to 2009?
The August edition of World Fleet Monitor, published by Clarkson Research Services, notes that the Marshall Islands Registry is the fastest growing registry in the world with 14.3% growth this year. As you have seen from our figures, the Registry still presents a growing trend and we are going to further examine possible opportunities arising out of the present market conditions. As you probably know, our moto is "service and quality are within your reach." Servicing our ships and customers efficiently by meeting local demands is a top priority for us, but of course, as challenging economic times persist, the Registry continues to work closely with owners and operators of existing tonnage to maintain the quality of the fleet.
What about your Hellenic customers?
We all understand the importance of the Greek shipping community. Greek interests control about 13% of the present world fleet, as well as about 13% of the ships on order in terms of gross tonnage. The Marshall Islands Registry appreciates the potential of the Greek shipping community and with the establishment and further development of the Piraeus office, the Registry is able to meet local demands by taking advantage of technology and innovation. Greek owners have reached the first position in the Marshall Islands, by representing 25% of the overall Registry's fleet. Owners worldwide expect efficient and prompt services from a Maritime Administration. They can enjoy these benefits by registering their vessels with us, and also take advantage of the Marshall Islands' white list status with the major PSC regimes, the Registry's active presence in the IMO, as well as the local handling of customer requests. Considering that the Greek fleet is registered among 47 Flags, the Marshall Islands holding 12% of the Greek market is a significant achievement.
One of the major issues in today's industry is piracy on high seas. How is Marshall Islands dealing with the continuous incidents of piracy?
The Republic of the Marshall Islands continues to work closely with the United Nations as a member of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) to foster a global approach to the scourge of piracy. Additionally, the Marshall Islands Registry is working with various trade, governmental, military and intelligence organizations to safeguard commercial shipping interests in these dangerous waters. The Registry communicates frequently with vessel owners and operators to keep them apprised of threats, updated best management practices and any other industry guidance that becomes available. Organizations such as BIMCO are currently working on guidance to ship's crew with respect to piracy incidents and upon availability, the Registry will make owners/operators aware of its publication. In addition, all Marshall Islands flagged vessels transiting waters where pirates pose a risk that have not already registered with MSCHOA or are already reporting to the UKMTO are contacted by the Maritime Administrator.
Where pirates have been captured after threatening Marshall Islands flagged ships, the Registry has assisted courts in coastal States in prosecutions.
With the year closing to its end, what are the new steps planned for 2011, in order to further enhance the Registry's presence in the market? Will there be new services introduced?
The Registry foresees continued growth in the coming year and continues to expand its worldwide staff to support the fleet. Beyond its core business, the Registry remains involved in the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). The Registry has taken a leadership position in shepherding this new labor regime and expects it to have a positive impact on the world's more than 1.2 million seafarers. In furtherance of its goals relating to international, regional and national regulatory schemes, the Marshall Islands Quality Council (MIQC) concluded its most recent meeting in September in London to discuss the broad spectrum of pending and newly imposed laws, regulations and conventions concerning maritime safety, security and environmental compliance.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwideο»Ώ