UK flag slides out of the world’s top 20 list

The embattled UK Ship Register has dropped out of the world’s top 20 list of flag states by size for the first time since records began.

Latest statistics from the World Fleet Monitor monthly publication issued yesterday by Clarkson Research Services sees the UK flag slide out of the world’s top 20 registries, falling from 19th spot in August to 21 this month with India and Iran leapfrogging it in the last month.

The UK flag’s fleet now stands at 956 ships totalling 10.6m gt, down 34% from the 16.1m gt on its books at the start of the year.

Among a host of international shipping companies ditching the British flag this year, France’s CMA CGM pulled 49 of its ships from the register earlier this year, citing Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union. The Marseille-headquarted line said it had taken the decision to drop the Red Ensign “in light of Brexit and to avoid any uncertainty in the period with our fleet status and regulations”.

Despite the calamitous year to date, officials at the British registry are putting on a brave face, stating last week they have set a 12.5% growth target for the coming 12 months.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Thanks to Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and all the rabid nostalgics. Just one of the unannounced and unanticipated consequences of the madness.
    As to the British registry objective to grow the fleet by 12.5%, they are either deluded or they have a plan to introduce FoC rules and taxes…….or maybe 12.5% will be based on such an eroded base fleet that it will be just about achievable.

  2. They are “rationalising” the registry. They have separated the compliance and enforcement arm and are now a commercial registry. Of course they are going to put measures to compete with FOCs although they maintain that they will uphold the quality. They have their maritime 2050 plan online. Time will tell.

  3. Well they did separate the Compliance and enforcemnt arem from the Commercial side. But they have now brought these back together under one head. As you were…..
    And they have now, by all defintions and uses oif the phrase decided to become an “Open Register” or FOC. Although they annmounced that they have opened the register in such a way as to meet those definitions they make claims that they are not. Must be Boris’s methods filtering their way down……

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