Thursday, June 29, 2000

Liberian Registry cuts fees

The Liberian Registry's manager, LISCR, says it has made a "major information technology investment program." As a result it is cutting annual tonnage taxes by 75 per cent to $0.10 per net ton and will waive initial registration fees for new vessels joining the register over the next six months. Also, beginning in October, shipowners will be able to handle seafarer documentation online, as the first step in a move towards a web-based registry.

Yoram Cohen, CEO of LISCR, says, "We have used computers to streamline our processes and cut costs. Now we can share those savings with shipowners, while offering them an enhanced service. We have kept the best elements of the Liberian registry, its tradition of excellent quality and service to owners, and got rid of the high costs and old-fashioned bureaucracy that drove up those costs. Now owners can have the best for less."

The new pricing structure for the registry sets annual tonnage taxes at $0.10 per net ton, plus a flat annual fee of $3,800 per vessel. There are separate fees for MIIPS contributions, to cover IMO dues, and marine inspections. An initial registration fee of $0.13 per net ton, not to exceed $3,900, plus a one off payment of $1,500 per vessel, will be waived for vessels committed to the registry during the six months commencing July 1.

"This is just the beginning," says Cohen. "We are going to continue our investment in technology, and continue to bear down on internal costs while at the same time enhancing access for shipowners. We are currently testing the on-line seafarer documentation system, which will save shipowners time and money. By the beginning of next year we hope to be offering on-line registration of ships for those who want it, which will allow us to pass on further savings to owners. Service will improve, quality will remain at the highest level, but costs will continue to fall. A one-to-one personal service will always be available to owners who want it."

Almost 1,900 vessels of 60 million gt currently fly the Liberian flag.

Unions get $4million to help Gulf Coast mariners meet STCW requirements
A press conference is being held in New Orleans, tomorrow, Friday, June 30, 2000, at which the AFL-CIO will announce a new grant from the U.s. Department of Labor. The grant is to help Gulf Coast mariners meet new international certification requirements of IMO and the USCG.

Beth Steel gets $20 million, three-year contract from Kvaerner Philadelphia
Bethlehem Steel Corporation's (NYSE: BS) Bethlehem Lukens Plate (BLP) has signed a three-year contract worth over $20 million with the Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard to supply American Bureau of Shipbuilding (ABS) grade plate steel. Kvaerner is committed to producinga minimum of three containerships with an estimated steel plate requirement of 30,000 tons.

Charles Mattia, general manager - marketing for BLP, said "A key part of this contract is BLP's commitment to provide required plate tonnages to exacting specifications and delivery schedules. Kvaerner's presence in the Delaware Valley is good for local companies, like Bethlehem Steel, and the state's economic initiatives."

The required ABS plate steel grades will be rolled on Bethlehem Steel's mills in Conshohocken, Pa., and Burns Harbor, Ind. Both mills' unique capabilities will be used to meet the customer's requirements. The plate is subsequently blasted, painted and shipped to the Philadelphia shipyard on a just-in-time basis.

EurOPA initiative endorsed by European Council
The European initiative for tougher maritime safety standards that's come to be called EurOPA is moving right along. The Council of the European Union earlier this week took up the maritime safety proposals made by the European Commission following the Erika incident.

(The EurOPA initiative is, of course, high on the agenda for our upcoming Maritime Legislation, Regulation and Policy Conference being held in Washington in September)

CLASSIFICATION SOCIETIES: It seems likely that a shake up in the recognition of classification societies could be under way. The Council noted that a proposed directive is in the works seeking to "reinforce and harmonize" the quality of bodies surveying and inspecting ships on behalf of member states. It looks as though the power to recognize, supervise or suspend surveying/inspecting organizations (e.g. classification societies) will be moved from individual European Community member countries to the European Commission--though member states will retain the right to designate the organizations which are charged with the surveillance of their own fleets.

The proposed directive will also seek to harmonize the civil liabilities to which accepted surveying/inspecting organizations are exposed.

Importantly, it will establish the information that must be furnished to flag state, to the Paris MOU's Sirenac data base for use by port states, and--in the case of a change of classification society--to the new class society.

PORT STATE CONTROL: The Council wants to see an intensification of work on the European Commission's proposals for a Port State Control directive. It wants to be in a position to reach a joint decision with the European Parliament on the proposed directive by October.

A major element of this directive is a proposal that the ships seen as presenting the greatest risks of pollution be barred from European Community ports. In its conclusions, the Council sets the end of the present year as its target date for introducing this measure.

DOUBLE HULLS: The Council also wants work to progress on proposals for an accelerated phase out of single hull tankers in preparation for an October debate on the issue. The Commission is proposing that tankers flying the flag of a member state, or wishing to enter a European Community port, should be equipped with a double hull in accordance with the time frame imposed by the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990, rather than that imposed by the MARPOL convention. The Commission also wants to see the double hull requirement imposed on vessels smaller than those covered by MARPOL. The Commission is also proposing financial incentives, such as reduced port and pilotage fees, for double hulled vessels.

In its conclusions, the Council urges member states to work within IMO for a revision of MARPOL that would accelerate that convention's phase out of single hulled vessels.

[This report is a brief summary of some major points from the Council's official release. That document is currently only available in French. To get the full French text click here]



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