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The Republic of the Marshall Islands Registry Witnesses Increased Share in the Greek Shipping Market

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) ship registry has increased its share in the Greek shipping market, as it has kept growing over the past five years. In an interview with Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide (www.hellenicshippingnews.com), Mr. Theo K. Xenakoudis, Chief Commercial Officer, Managing Director of the Piraeus office with International Registries Inc. outlines the growth of the RMI registry in the Greek shipping market and delves into the sector’s main issues today.

Can you provide us with the latest data when it comes to the total IRI’s ships data and the share of Greek owners, per ship type and age?

As of April 30, 2024, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) fleet included 5,655 vessels and total tonnage of more than 201 million gross tons. The fleet includes a wide variety of vessels, including bulk carriers (34% of the fleet), tankers (24% of the fleet), and yachts (17% of the fleet) as well as a wide variety of offshore, passenger, cargo, gas and bulk carriers, and more. The RMI remains a flag of choice for Greek owners and operators choosing a foreign flag. As of 31 March 2024, the RMI fleet had 1,506 vessels weighing 66.2 million gross tons that are either managed or owned by a Greek company, which is 32.9% of the total gross tons of the RMI fleet.

Theo K. Xenakoudis, Chief Commercial Officer Managing Director Piraeus office International Registries, Inc.

How does it compare to previous years growth-wise?

The RMI Registry continues to earn the respect of the Greek shipping community. We are proud to see steady growth year on year with, with an average 5-year growth of 6.6% and an overall 5-year growth of 25.1%. Greek interest has either maintained or increased as a percentage of the RMI fleet over those same five years, a significant item to note considering the overall growth of the RMI fleet in gross tonnage and fleet size. This growth reflects the growth of our Piraeus office as well, which is celebrating 50 years this year. The Piraeus office is one of IRI’s largest regional offices and supports RMI owners across the Eastern Mediterranean. It has also supported the growth of regional offices in Istanbul, Dubai, and beyond.

Which are the main trends you’re noticing among Greek owners, when it comes to their preferences, when it comes to fleet allocation?

Greek owners are strategic in their preferences, and we see many investing in growing an economically and environmentally sustainable fleet. Those investments range from ordering LNG carriers to retrofitting existing tankers and bulk carriers.

2024 is proving to be quite challenging when it comes to ships’ safety, as a result of the situation in the Red Sea and the Straits of Hormuz. How can a flag assist towards alleviating safety concerns?

Safe vessel operation is essential to the global economy. Geopolitical events, such as the situation in the Red Sea and in the Straits of Hormuz impact the flow of goods, materials, and people – resulting in disruptions to the global supply chain. Within the Maritime Services Group, IRI maintains a team of ship safety and security personnel to focus exclusively on issues related to the ISPS Code and maritime security concerns. This team, headed by Mr. Evan Curt, participates in industry discussion groups, maritime security working groups, and action teams to maintain a timely, and relevant flow of security information to the RMI fleet.

Shipping’s decarbonization is of course the main issue moving forward and Marshall Islands is among a major advocate for it, in the IMO MEPC meetings. Do you believe that a shipping levy, as proposed, could help speed up the process towards achieving the goals set by the IMO?

The industry has committed to a sustainable future and owners and operators are already moving to achieve the goals set by the IMO. To increase resilience while meeting forthcoming environmental regulations, such as the 2030 targets set forth by the IMO, IRI has formalized Gas and Renewables Teams. These teams evaluate and assess new and alternative energy sources, such as floating offshore wind turbines (FOWTs), as well as solutions and options for low sulfur fuels, liquified natural gas (LNG), and more.
From our perspective, we see owners and operators from cargo to cruise and yachts already incorporating sustainable technology and solutions on board, and we expect high-levels of compliance with IMO regulations across the RMI fleet.

Can you identify the main initiatives undertaken by IRI, towards improving its market offering, over the course of the past few years?

IRI’s strong market position and international reputation reflect the organization’s focus on client service and continual improvement. That focus has resulted in an outstanding pSc record worldwide. RMI is the only registry in the world to achieve 20 consecutive years of enrollment with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) QUALSHIP 21 program. RMI remains white-listed with the Paris and Tokyo Memorandums of Understanding and maintains an excellent record with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

In the past decade, IRI has focused on expanding expert technical support, especially in the areas of alternative energy and advanced technology to support RMI owners and operators as they transition to a decarbonized future. New team members and strong industry relationships provide RMI owners and operators with tangible benefits as they make informed decisions about the future of their fleet. Additionally, IRI team members have participated in several joint development and research projects to evaluate, assess, and review emerging technologies and solutions to meet the challenges of digitalization and decarbonization. Together with colleagues from classification societies, manufacturers, and governments, IRI team members have explored the application, implementation, and review of solutions that may play a role in the future of shipping. This hands-on experience and knowledge of solutions, alternative fuels, and their applications – allows our team to serve as a voice of experience as owners and operators evaluate, assess, and select their solutions.

Internally, IRI has embraced digitalization, rolling out digital tools to facilitate streamlined operations, both administratively and technically. From our electronic seafarer documentation portal to online submission of corporate forms to acceptance of digital signatures, IRI continually improves its client service offerings, finding new ways to streamline the exchange of information, documents, and communication.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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