The Marshall Islands register announced that its fleet has grown 29 percent in tonnage terms, or 4 million gross tons (gt), over the past 12 months in a mid-year report released.
At the mid-year point of June 30, 2003, there are 569 ships totalling 17.69 million gt flying the Marshall Islands flag, in contrast to the 429 ships of 13.69 million gt on the register on June 30, 2002.
The Marshall Islands flag has been one of the fastest growing registries in the world in recent years, and the latest figures show that this trend is continuing. In April 2003, for example, almost 1 million gt of new ships was registered with the Marshall Islands, just short of a record monthly total for the flag.
“At the start of this year we had set a target of reaching the 20 million gt mark sometime in 2004,” stated Bill Gallagher, president of International Registries, Inc (IRI), administrator of the Marshall Islands register. “At our current rate of expansion, we will achieve our goal before the end of this year.”
In tonnage terms the Marshall Islands register is now the 9th largest worldwide and approximately the same size as those of the US, Japan and Hong Kong. Much of the recent growth surge is attributed to the delivery of new tankers and container ships for US, Greek and German owners. “We are now the leading register for US-owned tanker tonnage,” added Bill Gallagher. “Two-thirds of the Marshall Islands tanker fleet of 150 vessels are either double-hull, double-side or double-bottom.”
IRI has continued to implement new measures in 2003 as part of its ongoing programme to enhance the quality of the Marshall Islands register. The pre-registration scrutiny of vessels has been increased and the monthly screening of vessel performance has been introduced to identify trends in the fleet which might indicate the presence of substandard tonnage. These initiatives include intervention with the vessel owner and classification society to improve performance.
In complementary developments, a watch-list of vessels has been created to identify ships on the registry that may require closer scrutiny while a team of full-time travelling inspectors has been established to visit vessels in the fleet. These inspectors operate from IRI bases in London, Hong Kong and the US.
During the 12 months to June 30, 2003 a total of 10 ships departed from the Marshall Islands registry due to their inability to meet the accepted performance standards.
Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU statistics show that the Marshall Islands register has one of the lowest port state control (PSC) ship detention records of any ship registry.
The Marshall Islands made three sole submissions and one joint submission on flag states issues to the 77th Session of the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 77) held in London this past May 28 - June 6. In one of the proposals the Marshall Islands requested that IMO develop guidelines for the authorization of recognized security organizations (RSOs), in much the same way that guidelines exist for recognized organizations (ROs) utilized by flag states. Delegates to MSC 77 accepted the proposal in principle and the IMO Working Group on Maritime Security is now engaged in producing a draft guidance document.
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