The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) achieved a ranking in the top three on the white list of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as reflected in the Paris MoU’s Annual Port State Control Report, released 1 July 2021. Neither of the other two largest registries ranked in the top 10 this year. The RMI Registry also ranked in the top *10 of the Australian Maritime Safety Administration (AMSA) Port State Control Australia - 2020 Annual Report, released 4 June 2021, and the top 10 on the white list of the Tokyo MoU’s Annual Report, released in April 2021. In May 2021, the RMI became the only registry in the world to achieve 17 consecutive years of enrollment in the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG’s) QUALSHIP 21 program.
International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI) provide administrative and technical support to the RMI Registry and have had to develop innovative solutions during this year of significant global challenges, which prevented typical inspection regimes and crew changes.
“COVID-19 created unprecedented challenges for our owners, operators, ships’ crews, and fleet operations team. In the face of severely restricted crew changes, the inability to board vessels, and altered inspections and maintenance schedules, our owners and operators did a remarkable job ensuring safe vessel operations, which is reflected in this year’s port State control (PSC) rankings,” said Bill Gallagher, president of IRI.
Of the three largest registries, only the RMI ranks in the top 10 for the Paris and Tokyo MoUs, AMSA, and holds USCG QUALSHIP 21 status.
“We take our safety, security, and environmental compliance responsibilities seriously,” said Brian Poskaitis, IRI’s senior vice president, Fleet Operations. “It is our duty to be visible, approachable, and accessible, with an experienced team of technical professionals to support our owners and operators, especially in times of global challenge.”
As the maritime industry continues to grapple with the challenges imposed by COVID-19, the RMI Registry has been proactive and innovative in helping owners meet these challenges. IRI’s fleet operations team expects to see the effects of these challenges and disruptions altering the results of both flag and PSC inspections over the next several years. The most significant disruptions include the ability to relieve crew, lack of access to training during the pandemic, and delayed dry docking and maintenance. There have also been difficulties getting stores or spares to vessels as well as getting necessary shore support.
“We adapted quickly to provide remote inspections, but these only provided us with a window into the vessel. As the pandemic has impacted the industry for more than a year, we will not realize the full impact on vessel operations for some time,” said Chris van Tiel, Fleet Operations Manager, IRI Roosendaal. His team in Roosendaal together with his counterparts in Europe, oversee fleet operations throughout the Paris MoU region. “Our fleet operations team members are on the ground, visible and accessible at the most significant ports worldwide,” he said. “Because our team is spread globally, we have been able to board vessels when superintendents cannot, and RMI flagged vessel crews view our inspectors as the proactive arm of the inspection, identifying and resolving high risk issues before they become deficiencies. As we gain more and more physical access to vessels, we will get a full understanding of the impact COVID-19 has had on vessel operations,” he concluded.
As vessels continue to trade throughout the pandemic, IRI representatives worldwide are able to support the ever-changing needs of RMI owners and operators. With technical experts and fleet operations team members spread across 27 worldwide offices, operations and processes were shifted seamlessly as travel and movement restrictions fluctuated. More than 1,130 remote inspections were conducted between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 in an effort to ensure continuity of vessel operations in a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible way while also keeping an eye on crew well-being.