New US Open Registry?

No, it is not the1st of April yet.
Same news reported on Splash 24/7 today:

And your thoughts are??

We are well on the way to becoming a 3rd world nation socially and politically so may as well become a FoC.


So what exactly is the difference between an “open registry” and a “flag of convenience”?

@john is listed as being involved, maybe he can share details on how this will help the American mariner?

Flag of convenience is a term that has a negative connotation often used to denote flags that have lower standards or tax rates.

Open registry is a flag that allows foreign owners to register.

A closed register is a flag that only allows citizens or domestic businesses to register.

This New Virgin Islands flag hopes to be open to international owners but not a flag of convenience.

I am speaking about the importance of seafarers at the event on Tuesday and have been asked my opinion on various subjects but I haven’t been paid and have not been offered an official position on the team. That might change as this becomes a reality… we shall see.

Here is a link to download the white paper that outlines the entire plan:
A Revitalization Plan for U.S. Maritime Trade, Commerce, and Strategic Competition

1 Like

A couple big questions come to mind:

  1. Who will issue certificates? USVI? Or will they be issued from US Government/USCG?
  2. Does this allow US owners to Flag, still operate under JA, but crew foreign and build foreign?

good questions.

Here are some more details but… sounds like we will have to wait until Tuesday for answers to the tough questions.

A Revitalization Plan for US Maritime Trade, Commerce and Strategic Competition

Hosted by Northeast Maritime Institute’s Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE)

February 1, 2022 - 1:30PM ET
National Press Club, Washington DC

Free Registration:


• Formation of the U.S. Virgin Islands open international ship registry—the first, and only, international U.S. open ship registry.
• Development of a short sea transshipment hub in the Caribbean to alleviate supply chain congestion by moving a portion of east coast distribution from land to sea and increasing the number of ports importing ever-increasing quantities of goods from overseas.
• Build public/private/international partnerships to address strategic maritime issues, increase transparency and enforce legal and ethical standards.
• Establish and implement a green shipping strategy, including decarbonization of the U.S.-flagged fleet.
• Establishing a Maritime Venture Capital Fund to finance commercially advanced technologies that solve maritime and ocean industry problems with a focus on environmental vulnerabilities.
• Modernization of the maritime workforce by deploying state of the art education and training tools in the U.S. and abroad.


• Ambassador John D. Negroponte, the first U.S. Director of National Intelligence and former Deputy Secretary of State

• The Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Honorable Albert Bryan, Jr.; and

• President Eric R. Dawicki of the Northeast Maritime Institute

• Jeremy Greenwood, a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Strobe Talbott Center on Security, Strategy, and Technology

• Stephen Flynn, PhD, Founding Director of the Center for Global Resilience at Northeastern University, leading Homeland Security advisor under the Bush and Obama administrations, and global expert on supply chain resilience

• Admiral James Watson, Northeast Maritime Institute Trustee and former Director of Prevention Policy for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship at the United States Coast Guard and the first Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the US Department of Interior

• Captain Anuj Chopra, Co-Founder & CEO of FNI ESGPlus

• Carleen Lyden Walker, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association

• Nishan Degnarain, former Chairman of the World Economic Forum – Global Agenda Council on Oceans

• Jonathan Kempe, Verifai Australia

• Dr. Sal Mercogliano, PhD, Campbell University.

• Captain John Konrad, Founder & CEO of gCaptain
Here is a link to register for

Here is a list of what ITF regards as FoCs:

It is possible to have an “Open Registry” without being classified as FoC
As you’ll see several “Open Registries” are NOT on this list. (i.e. Hong Kong, Singapore, Isler of Man, Dutch Antilles, NIS, DIS etc.)

Besides, several of those listed as FoCs by ITF are among the best performers on the Paris and Tokyo MoUs White Lists:

In other words, it is possible to maintain good standard of safety, even if a ship is registered in an "open registry.

The USVI Open Registry doesn’t need to be anything comparable to the most notorious FoCs. that you find on the MoU Black Lists.

Still do not understand how this helps the US mariner? Does not appear as though any US maritime labor interest is engaged.

What stands out to me is the “transshipment hub”. Maybe I’m not comprehending properly, but would an example be: an “open registery” vessel brings container from Houston to USVI. The containers are then combined with containers from other US ports on to a different open registery vessel and sent to say NY?

Similar to US crude oil shipped via foreign flag vessel to a foreign refinery and then shipped back to US as a product?

I’ve got to agree with El segundo’s opening queation. Further, isn’t calling this a US registry a bit of a misnomer when it’s the USVI and not the US?
The title of the article implies that this is carried out under the auspices of the US government when this is not the case. I may be wrong here but it seems more accurate to say it’s the owner of a maritime school working under a 3rd world island protectorate’s umbrella, in the same way an American insurance company in NY runs the ship registry for a particular African nation.

This is not to belittle what may be an interesting and profitable relationship for the parties involved. It may be I am too dense to bridge the gaps here and feel revitalized. I wish them well at it, may it profit them.

I am not all that familiar with the legal status of the US Virgin Islands as a US Territory.

If the US Virgin Islands is a US Territory, how can it be a foreign or US Flag “State.”

What’s next? Is Delaware also going to become a “flag State” with a ship register?

I seem to recall (I might be wrong or out of date) that the US Virgin Islands is exempt from the Jones Act.

If that’s the case, goods can travel to or from the US mainland and the US Virgin Islands on foreign flag ships, without a US build or US crew requirement.

However, the Jones Act requires that goods shipped between US ports must travel in US flag vessels that are US built and US crewed.

US goods from Seattle cannot be shipped to Vancouver, Canada, and then “transshipped” to Alaska on foreign flag ships.

While the US Virgin Islands might become a “transshipment hub,”. anyone that thinks US goods being shipped from Maine to Florida can be taken away from US trucking companies (to get them off the highway), and then shipped on foreign built, foreign crewed vessel’s from Maine to The USVI, and then “transshipped” back to Florida, is out of his mind.

This is a little dated, but does indicate that the USVI is outside the US Customs Zone, and is exempt from the Jones Act, until the President declares otherwise.

Application of US Coastal Laws to Virgin Islands
Briefing Paper for Senior Plenary Session of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas March 1, 2011
Merchant Marine Act of 1920 Placed VI Outside US Custom Zone: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 also knows as the Jones Act excluded the Virgin Islands from the application of all US coastal laws. Specifically, SEC. 21. COASTWISE LAWS EXTENDED TO ISLAND TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS (46 App. U.S.C. 877) states the following:
“And provided further, That the coastwise laws of the United States shall not extend to the Virgin
Islands of the United States until the President of the United States shall, by proclamation, declare that such coastwise laws shall extend to the Virgin Islands and fix a date for the going into effect of same.”
VI Placed Outside US Custom Zone to Deter Smuggling and Protect VI Duty Free Port: The United States completed the purchase and transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917. The VI economy was depressed and its physical infrastructure and development of social and political institution required great investment. Agriculture formed the economic base for St. Croix and the duty free port of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas still was a center of commercial activity for the VI that brought in revenues and was perceived as being one of the VIs greatest assets.
The VI was placed outside of the US Custom Zone so as not to disturb that source of revenue for the VI and the Danish owned West Indies Company that owned and controlled the port. There was also a concern that foreign countries could smuggle goods into the VI for duty free entry into the US. Placing VI outside custom zone was seen as an ability to deter such activity.
Doing Business Outside US Custom Zone is Presenting Various Economic Cost: The political and economic of the US, the VI, and the Caribbean region have changed tremendously over the some 90 years since the Jones Act was passed. What was once an economic advantage of being a US Territory outside of the US Custom Zone is now presenting some disadvantages in the new global and technological society.
The VI is treated as an international destination by mail carriers such as UPS and FEDEX since it is outside the custom zone and this has added significantly to the cost of shipping for businesses and residents. Some computer and technology providers will not even ship or do business with the Virgin Islands because of their understanding of the rules with doing business with “international” entitities. VI residents have come under the scrutiny for attempting to ship prescription medicine to their relatives in the states because of being outside of the Custom Zone
Way Forward: This topic requires further study to assess the cost and benefits for the Virgin Islands being exempt from the application of US Coastal laws and requires the assistance and expertise of the Department of Treasury in developing more in depth analysis.
Contact: Basil Ottley (202)320-5021 February 2011

There must be a few levels of open
Singapore for example, you need to be a national, resident or a resident company.

It’s just a white paper and not a done deal. Significant legislative hurdles exist before this could become reality.

As far as the USVI registry is concerned …

There are several statements regarding regulations and oversight which strike me as hyperbole and not supported by facts.

“Northeast Maritime Institute developed and currently manages and operates the Commonwealth of Dominica International Ship Registry”
“Northeast Maritime Institute will bring considerable knowledge and expertise to the development and management of the USVI Flag …”

If Marshall Islands and Liberia are bad for letting US companies run their registries, why is Dominica good for doing the same thing? Dominica is on the Tokyo MOU grey list and not on any Paris MOU list so why under heaven would you look to them as your standard of what is a quality registry, they have a worse record than the US which lags far behind Marshall Islands and Liberia and is neck and neck with Panama?

Don’t get me wrong, I think an open US registry is a good idea but this white paper reeks of poor implementation.

Why would one think involving the USCG and MARAD to any significant degree will get you a different result than the current state of the US Merchant Marine? The institutional inertia of both agencies will lead to the USVI registry looking exactly like the US registry but allowing foreign owners.

USCG is a very good port state but leaves much to be desired as a flag state.

1 Like

So FOC isn’t a “real” thing but just a pejorative term for an open registry. Low standards are not exclusive to open registries.


The US probably ought to have an international ship register.

The NIS might be a good starting point.

There could probably be some tax advantages and preferences built into a US IS to encourage the American owned foreign flag fleet to switch to it.

Perhaps it could reserve some small percentage of the jobs for American mariners.

And what about foreign owners? Under this scheme could foreign owners now get in on JA trade?