Isle of Man Ship Registry 2017 review and 2018 outlook

By Dick Welsh, Director, Isle of Man Ship Registry

2017 has been a big year for the Isle of Man Ship Registry. In many ways, it has been a year of change for which we have been planning a long time. In April we introduced an entirely new way of working with our clients and the regulation of their ships. We delegated the three remaining statutory requirements of shipboard audits and inspections for ISM, ISPS and ILO MLC to our Recognised Organisations (Classification Societies) and introduced a new regime of Flag State Inspections. This was the final move towards full delegation to Class and provides the Ship Registry with a much more effective oversight of the maintenance and operation of our ships. Without the constraints of fixed time windows, we can now visit each ship at a time and place to suit the owners and operators, and our surveyors have more of a free hand for inspections and drills. A win-win for all.

To further assist the owners, we introduced a new ‘block-fee’ arrangement, which includes registry annual fees as well as certificate and inspection charges in one payment. This provides predictable and accurate costs for registry and regulation by the Flag State, and compares extremely favourably against our competitors.

As we close the year, over six months in to the new regime, we are receiving very positive feedback. Owners are seeing benefits in all areas, particularly the simplified fees and new reports from our in-house surveyors, which add real value.

The Isle of Man Ship Registry’s move to digitisation has been exceptionally well received. In September, our online system for STCW endorsement with self-print at source (or onward transmission to ships and officers) in electronic format went live. The take-up has been staggering andevery company has immediately seen the benefits. It reduces processing time further and eliminates the time and expense of courier services. Our recent ISO14001 external audit praised the reduction in paper usage and air miles (CO2 reduction) of this new system. We are now issuing over 90% of STCW endorsements in a single working day.

Other initiatives in the world of superyachts saw the launch and rebrand of the UK Large Yachts Codes to the Red Ensign Yacht Codes. This recognises the collaborative work of the Red Ensign Group in drafting and keeping the Codes up to date, but equally important, it reaffirms the Red Ensign Group as the dominant flag and industry leaders in the world of superyachts. Alongside this the Isle of Man Ship Registry launched its ‘Pleasure Yacht Plus’ scheme. This allows owners to choose a voluntary compliance scheme for yachts which are not operating commercially, but wish to remain crewed and surveyed to the highest standards.

All of this helped the Ship Registry to climb to its highest level on Clarksons’ World Fleet table at No12 in the World by gross registered tonnage, with a new high of over 17 million tons.

Looking back at 2017, who can forget London International Shipping Week? This event has really come of age and the Isle of Man was well represented throughout the week. Our “Raising the Bar at Tower Bridge” event was one of the most talked-about events and will live long in the memory for all those lucky enough to be there.



We will see more digitisation in 2018. Our MAVIS operating system is continuously being upgraded and modified to deliver ever more efficient and effective systems. I recently visited clients in Singapore and returned invigorated and inspired by the industry’s drive to get online certification on all of their ships. No longer do companies take a step back and wait for others to lead the way and find problems in some areas of the world. They are in a ‘close eyes and jump’ mind-set, which is really great to see. To make this happen, we have communicated our intent to IMO and have sent clear instructions to our recognised organisations to push ahead with digital certificates. Sadly, some Class Societies are further ahead than others. We are also working with our developers to get changes through as soon as possible for all of our certificates issued to ships to be electronic with full electronic ‘signatures’/verification embedded.

In the not too distant future we hope we will arrive at the stage where the ships no longer need to carry the statutory certificates but they are hosted in the cloud for inspection by whoever requires access to inspect. But let’s walk before we can run!

Wishing everybody a prosperous and digital New Year.