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Panama’s ship registry adapts to the era of COVID-19


Posted on April 8, 2022 at 10:28 a.m. by

Panama Ship Registry







The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to Panama’s ship registry. “But like the Chinese ideogram for ‘crisis’, composed of two characters: ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’, it taught us to take up the challenge and accelerate the process of modernization to continue to offer a service of excellence” , explains Rafael Cigarruista. , Director General of the Merchant Navy of the Maritime Authority of Panama and responsible for the register of ships. “We have turned challenges into strengths for our organization today,” he adds.


Issuance of most Registry documents is currently done electronically, reducing both client management time and paper usage, and this ongoing project will continue until complete digitization of all the documents. Meanwhile, since 2020, QR codes have been used for navigation patents and radio licenses, enabling real-time verification, and all


certificates and authorizations issued through the E-Segumar platform carry QR codes.


This methodology was incorporated during the pandemic to ensure that Registry users would not have any issues presenting their documents upon arrival at different ports.


The Fleet Control and Surveillance Sections were created within the Department of Navigation and Maritime Safety, in charge of the process of analysis and due diligence for vessels wishing to register in Panama. It is also responsible for monitoring the positioning of vessels in the Panamanian fleet by LRIT, where the compliance rate is 90%. The Registry has also created the Implementation, Control and Enforcement of International Measures section within the Resolutions and Consultations Department, which examines the measures adopted at the international level to apply them to the maritime fleet and the administration of Panama.


The Panama Ship Registry strongly believes in decarbonization and has had an incentive program for efficient and less polluting ships in place since 2008. It added a special incentive for green ships and new builds in 2014. Panama supports the establishment of the Decarbonization Research and Development Fund, to be managed by the International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) under the supervision of the IMO, to accelerate the development of new technologies in the industry maritime.


In 2020, the Panamanian flag achieved 100% compliance in issuing certificates and for reporting to the GISIS platform on the fuel consumption of its fleet.


Last November, at COP26, Panama – which is one of the three carbon negative countries in the world – signed the Declaration of Zero Emissions in the Maritime Industry by 2050 and pledged to work with the IMO for the 2030 and 2040 decarbonisation targets. The register is also considering possible amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to introduce incentives for ships that comply with the design, type of fuel used and operational measures aimed at reducing polluting emissions.


The human factor, the skill of seafarers, will always play an important role. According to international data, 90% of incidents and accidents have human factor variables, which highlights the importance of better trained personnel. New technologies are part of today’s international maritime industry and can lay the groundwork for possible future changes in ship operations.


“As an IMO member and maritime administration, we value, support and must ensure the continued education and training of seafarers to secure jobs for ‘key workers’ in the industry,” Cigarruista says.


To obtain greater recognition of the qualifications issued by the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP), Panama has signed bilateral agreements with different maritime administrations, allowing Panamanian sailors to provide services on board vessels flying the flag of both countries, promote the national workforce and strengthen ties. technical cooperation between governments.


Currently, the Registry is studying the inclusion of Annual Remote Safety Visits as part of the procedures of the Direction Générale de la Marine Marchande. This requires creating a legal framework to start with an ASI remote inspection program, with the aim of complying with the obligation to inspect 100% of its fleet. In the meantime, some ROs have already been authorized to carry out audits and certain inspections remotely.


The Direction Générale de la Marine Marchande has established Remote Inspection Policies for Approved Organizations and Approved Protection Organizations wishing to carry out remote audits on a regular basis. These audits must be carried out under prior assessment and in compliance with the requirements of remote inspection techniques. These audits should provide the same results as an on-site inspection.


The Directorate General of Merchant Marine has ISO 9001:2015 certification and a program of internal audits, including the central office in Panama, the international technical offices of Segumar and inspections at the national level. It also maintains an audit program for Recognized Organizations (RO) and Recognized Protection Organizations (RPO) approved by its administration, based on the national regulations in force and the RO Code. In 2021, nine face-to-face audits were conducted with companies located in Panama, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.


“We are preparing our audit before the International Maritime Organization, from which we expect the best results,” adds the director of Panama Ship Registry.


Panama’s ship registry ended 2021 with a total of 8,558 ships and 236 million GT tons, an increase of 2.33% from the previous year’s 230.5 million GT, according to IHS Markit. The Panamanian merchant navy represents 15% of the world’s fleet, according to Clarksons Research.


This year is and will be a year of technological transformation for the Panamanian Registry to advance its modernization process. It is investing in new platforms for fleet service and supervision, maritime surveys, LRIT, risk analysis, vessel detentions and signaling issues to provide better service to customers.


Competition among registries is fierce, and Panama, the world’s largest registry, has taken steps to maintain its competitiveness, including:


– Renewal of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Panama and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on maritime transport. The five-year agreement strengthens the Ship Registry’s business relationship and engagement with its users entering Chinese ports. It also offers a series of advantages to shipowners who use the Panamanian flag on their ships.


– A significant technological investment has been made since the beginning of this Administration, with the new platform of the Maritime Processing System and the Electronic Register of Ships (REN), the inclusion of new modules in the E-Segumar platform and the validation of electronic certificates using QR codes.


– The Maritime Authority of Panama has signed a memorandum of understanding with Class NK on cybersecurity. This will help to better understand the cyber threats to which ships are exposed and to implement more effective measures to control these risks.


– Panama is a member of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko and the International Association of Drilling Contractors.


This post is sponsored by the Panama Ship Registry.



The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.