Reputations must be earned

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

03 August 2017


Earlier this week, the CEO of the (link: http://www.palaureg.com/ text: Palau International Ship Registry [PISR]) issued a statement decrying the Port State Control blacklisting system for flags discriminated against new entrants such as his. According to Panos Kirnidis, ‘Once a new registry is launched it needs to grow and will not in the first period be attracting the newer and larger vessels, operators or owners. It takes time for the new registry to build trusted relations with the ship-owners and stakeholders in the industry and to show its values’. He may well be right of course but some would say that there is already a surfeit of flag states and adding another, which in 10 years or so in existence has attracted around 200 or so mostly ships of pre-2000s vintage, is unnecessary. They would argue that Palau is a small Pacific Island state with a population of just above 21,000 and not particularly well known for its maritime heritage. Something similar may be said of the Marshall Islands and a number of other flags that have sprung up in recent times. On that point, ShipInsight has itself suggested tongue in cheek that if all shipowners everywhere combined to establish their own single flag they could claim overwhelming voting rights at the IMO. It is hard to imagine why Kirnides or any of those promoting new registries should believe that the port state control establishment should change its methods to accommodate these new flags which in almost every case have no connection with the ships flying them. Especially so when the ships in question are elderly and their owners and operators not readily recognised as being high status shipping organisations. Flag states, class societies and indeed shipowners all need to prove their credentials especially in the early stages and if PISR is the high calibre organisation that Kirnides says it is then it should have no problem in doing so. Some might argue that Kirnides is right but for the wrong reasons, all the while PSC concentrates on new entrants it is letting some sub-standard vessels flying established flags through the net as they escape targeting. Apparently ships which have a poor PSC record are not welcome on the Palau Register yet the Paris MoU has just moved it from the Grey to the Black list which might suggest otherwise. This may just be bad luck but if the Palau flag aspires to quality status perhaps it could prove that by ejecting the offenders that are giving it a poor record.