The United States of America will get an open registry based out of the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
The new flag will be run in partnership with the Northeast Maritime Institute, a private maritime college based in Massachusetts, which has previously overseen the running of the Dominica registry.
On the rationale for the new US open registry, a document by its backers takes aim at the established biggest names in the flag business.
The US has traditionally supported the top three open international flag state regimes; however, they have since grown too large for true compliance oversight
“Fifty percent of the ships that traverse our international waterways are registered in just three jurisdictions – Panama, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands – where loosely enforced regulations and lack of due diligence and oversight has created enormous risk to the U.S. and global shipping industry and facilitated illicit activity on the high seas,” a report from the NMI’s Center for Ocean Policy and Economics states, adding: “The U.S. has traditionally supported the top three open international flag state regimes; however, they have since grown too large for true compliance oversight and lack the desire to provide genuine global law enforcement services. Many open international flag states have knowingly or unknowingly enabled much of the illicit and unsustainable practices seen on the high seas today. In some cases, flag states have turned a blind eye to further restrict the disruption of these practices, running contrary to the U.S.’s strategic interests. The long-term results are plainly visible in the supply-chain dysfunctionality that has occurred over the last year and other unruly behaviors by state actors that run contrary to a transparent and rules-based international order on the high seas.”
Further details of the new flag as well as a revitalisation plan for US maritime trade, commerce and strategic competition will be revealed at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on February 1.
Less than 30 km east of the American territory in the Caribbean are the the British Virgin Islands, which has been getting its shipping register more focused on the merchant fleet in recent months. The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR) is best known for its yachting business, but the premier of British overseas territory, Andrew Fahie, has tried to beef up the flag recently.
The Caribbean is already home to many flags of the merchant fleet such as Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, St Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago.