International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI) recently held its triannual Maritime Services Group (MSG) meeting, where personnel from many of IRI's 27 worldwide offices gathered to discuss the successes of the previous year and the goals and challenges of the year ahead for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry.
In the last year, the RMI Maritime Registry grew to over 128 million gross tons. John Ramage, Chief Operating Officer (COO), discussed the projected fleet growth in the coming years and marked 2016 as the year of innovation for the RMI Registry. In order to sustain the Registry's year-over-year growth, he challenged the group to think innovatively and find ways to utilize recent technology upgrades to work more efficiently.
Ramage discussed issues including industry concerns, new regulations and maintaining the RMI's White List status on the Paris and Tokyo Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and its status on the United States Coast Guard's Qualship 21 roster. He also addressed the emergence of new vessel types in the already diverse RMI fleet and the challenges these introduce, as well as the downturn in the bulk carrier market.
Captain Robert Fay, Senior Vice President, Maritime Operations, discussed the upcoming entry into force of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Manila Amendments this year and the role the newly opened office in Manila, Philippines will play in issuing what could be up to 800,000 seafarer documents in 2016.
Regional updates from IRI's Dubai, Hamburg, Rio, and Roosendaal offices focused on the strengthened activities and performance of the respective offices and the challenges in the regional markets of each.
Richard Dias, Regional Technical Manager, based in Hong Kong, provided a regional update from the Far East. Richard flew directly to Reston following the Far East Maritime Operations meeting which included representatives from each of the 10 offices located in Asia. Many of the challenges faced in Asia echoed those already presented by Ramage. Dias highlighted the success of Annie Ng, Head of Asia.
Charles McHardy, Senior Vice President, Technical & Gulf Coast Operations, and Hans Molver, Senior Vice President, Technical, gave an update from the two Classification Society Consultative Committee meetings, which took place in Geneva and Houston. They also spoke on the department's work in conjunction with other service areas to implement the Recognized Organization Oversight Program. McHardy and Molver discussed challenges facing the department in the upcoming year as fleet growth continues to increase, including the continued need for expansion of personnel. In particular, added expertise in the areas of LNG, offshore, and ballast water management were discussed.
Patrick Bachofner, Director, Business Development, and Marc Verburg, Fleet Operations Manager, Yachts, spoke on the state of the RMI yacht fleet, discussing the accomplishments of the previous year, including the launch of the revised RMI Yacht Code (MI-103) which outlines the eligibility requirements for a Yacht Engaged in Trade (YET), and the additions of Mark Robinson Maritime Consultants (MRMC) as an RMI Appointed Representative and Heli-Ops as an RMI recognized Aviation Inspection Body. In the coming year, the yacht team hopes to extend the YET program to waters outside of France and Monaco and will continue to focus on the growth of the RMI yacht fleet.
The meeting concluded with a company dinner where Bill Gallagher, President of IRI, recognized Theo Xenakoudis, Director, Worldwide Business Operations, for his 15 years of service to IRI. Gallagher congratulated Xenakoudis on the huge success of the Piraeus office and its role in making the RMI Registry the largest open registry flag in Greece.