Maritime Laws

As well as actual flags of convenience, some of which have earned a poor reputation, some countries have recognised that the strictness of their maritime laws might tempt local owners to register their ships abroad.  These countries have, therefore, agreed to the formation of second registers sometimes referred to as open registers. Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom all have second registers, many of them specifically formed as a political decision; in the case of the U.K. the Isle of Man register developed as a result of the peculiar semi-independence of certain off-shore islands around the British Isles.  Several British ships have re-registered in the Isle of Man because simply avoiding the requirement to deduct and collect Income Tax and Social Security payments on behalf of the government has so reduced staff in the crewing department that it can represent the difference between profit and loss.  The shipowner’s decision as to where to register his ships will, therefore, have a significant effect upon the work of the crewing department. Open registers whilst retaining many of the safety aspects of ship manning, are more relaxed about the nationality of the crew.  This has given rise to companies which undertake to provide entire crews, many such crewing contractors directly supervise the training of the required personnel and ensure that they are replaced at the appropriate times. Some of those U.K. owners who flagged out their ships, actually continue to carry out all their own ship management in the U.K. with the exception of crewing which is delegated to a management company in the Isle of Man.  Several other countries, such as The Philippines, have built up a strong tradition of crew contracting. The International Ship Management Code of Practice (ISM Code) is an international convention established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sets out the minimum levels of training and administration and which has been adopted by the majority of the maritime nations of the world. Participating counties, as well as insisting upon their own ships obeying  the code are also empowered to demand proof that visiting vessels of other flags are complying with the standard.  This is enforceable under Port State Control.