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Isle of Man shipping registry poised for growth

In an exclusive interview with Hellenic Shipping News, Mr. Dick Welsh, Director of the Isle of Man shipping registry highlights the growth potential of the ISO 9000:2001 accredited flag. More than 60 merchant ships currently under construction in

various shipyards around the globe ready to register under the Isle of Man’s flag during the next two years, the flag’s current fleet stands at 373 ships, totaling 9.4 million gross tons. Among the Hellenic shipowners, Restis-controlled Enterprises Shipping and Trading is the biggest client with 41 ships registered.

Could you provide us with an update of the Isle of Man ship registry, in terms of its profile and services provided?
The Isle of Man is a quality flag, has ISO 9000:2001 accreditation and is positioned high on the world’s port state control inspection lists. The registry places strong emphasis on quality, high standards and efficient service to its clients and has a pragmatic approach to regulation.
At the end of August 2008, the fleet stood at 373 merchant ships totaling 9.4m gr.t. and 66 commercial yachts. In addition, there are 62 merchant ships and 57 commercial yachts under construction scheduled to register under the Isle of Man flag during the next two years.

How much has the registry grown from the beginning of the year?
Since the beginning of the year we registered 17 new ships and 7 new commercial yachts.

How many Greek ship owners do you have as clients? Do you have any data on their ships and numbers within the Registry?
We have one major Greek client, Enterprises Shipping and Trading SA, with a total of 41 ships on the Isle of Man register. With a view to encouraging more Greek owners to take advantage of the benefits of the Isle of Man register, Stephenson Harwood in Piraeus have been appointed as an Isle of Man representative for the acceptance of registration documents including bills of sale and mortgage deeds.

Is the Isle of Man registry planning to introduce new services in the coming months?
The Isle of Man has appointed Pole Star Space Applications as its national LRIT (long-range identification and tracking) data centre administrator and service provider. The Isle of Man Ship Register is the first European flag which can offer a fully compliant service which is well ahead of the target date of the Solas amendments of the 31st December 2008.

In what ways does the registry seek to differentiate itself from the competition, in terms of provided services, tax reliefs and pricing?

The Isle of Man registry is a highly customer-focused register operating 24/7 which is able to provide a fast response to all queries. Its ISO accredited systems and quality principles ensure that client’s needs are met. It is this relationship that sets us apart from our competitors with the registry, survey and legislation teams all working in the same building together with a supportive Government for the shipping industry on the Island.
The Isle of Man Registry has recently authorized seven classification societies ABS, LRS, GL, BV, DNV, Rina and Class NK to carry out all statutory survey work. This delegation will enable the Isle of Man Surveyors to concentrate on the “people’ systems involving safety management, security, crew conditions and welfare on board, whilst the classification societies concentrate on the structure, equipment and systems to ensure a safe and well maintained vessel.
The Isle of Man is located in a AAA jurisdiction and offers corporate taxation at a zero rate. It is a low cost registry, there are no annual tonnage taxes or any other annual dues payable. In fact, the bigger the ship, the greater the saving. After the initial ISM audit ““ six month’s after registration, the owner can elect to join the alternate fees scheme. This is a monthly fee of Β£200 which entitles the owner to 2 visits in a 5 year period by an Isle of Man surveyor who will conduct the ISM/ISPS/ILO audits and there are no further costs to the client irrespective of where the vessel may be at the time of the audit. There are no hidden fees and this is beneficial for owners who like to know the exact costs of vessel registration.

With maritime regulations changing rapidly, so the role of ship registers is evolving to keep pace with ever more demanding industry standards. Which are the main challenges and new responsibilities for shipping registries in order to keep up to these changes?
Safety and quality are paramount. The importance of building close relationships with port state control cannot be emphasiZed enough. The registry monitors all its vessels and “at risk’ or “underperforming’ ships are identified and addressed.

Which new regulatory initiatives in particular are going to change the face of the shipping industry in the years to come?
The next major issue facing the shipping industry is the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 which is due to come into force no later than 2010. This Convention will encompass every aspect of the seafarers’ employment relationship including employment conditions, social and welfare rights, minimum wage, hours of rest, annual leave, repatriation, medical care, health and safety protection and social security protection. Every flag state will have to inspect their vessels for compliance with the Convention. This will not pose a problem for the Isle of Man Registry as it is an area we have been dealing with for all Isle of Man registered vessels since they are already inspected by an Isle of Man surveyor twice in a five year period.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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