New US Open Registry?

How about all of them for US Mariners.


So… Another “solution” for the US Merchant Marine? In concept- great; in actual operation? Poor at best.

Bona-fides: I was a resident of the USVI from 1998 to 2013. I was in Marine Engineering Management on St Croix from 1998 to 2010. I was a consultant marine engineer from 2010 to 2013. I know the islands.

I am doubtful that the USVI Government can run any meaningful ship registry. When one looks at the financial ineptitude present in the USVI- Deficit spending, the amongst highest (by far) cost for electricity in the United States, as a government entity- financially speaking- they have bordered on near insolvency for decades.

In fact, were not for all the recent Stimulus and Aid Packages- they might have defaulted on a large amount of their financial obligations. The Government Employees Retirement System teetering on the brink of collapse… The mainland government has attempted for many years to have the USVI Government be accountable for the many millions of dollars that is given to the USVI- to no avail. Look at their Bond Ratings- they speak volumes. Last I checked it was Caa3; Moody states this is poor quality and very high risk… Look it up.

How about the individuals who are sponsoring this idea? Any Maritime Executives or anyone with experience running a large white list Flag Registry? Or just an unrated Flag Registry? How many have experience in actually operating ships (as opposed to a 3rd Mate with no sea time)?

I would love to see something like this actually work- giving US Flag Merchant Mariners preferred access- reserving their right to the jobs on these vessels… Also FULL adherence to all USCG Regs regarding the Operation, Safety and Security of every vessel, that means FULL compliance. These “second registry” vessels should NOT be given Jones Act privileges OR carte-blanche to operate the many Wind Farm construction or support…



John Negropote is no longer an official of the US Federal Government and is in no way speaking for the current Administration or Congess

All of this is rightwing blowing in some fools attempt to think they have come up with an end around laws they hate


There is no intention that the USVI would run anything or do anything, except allow it’s name to be used in exchange for a few fees.

The plan is for Northeast Maritime to run the USVI registry out of New Bedford.

No ships would register in a US international registry if they had to hire all high cost American mariners. That would be an instant kiss if death.

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Ok, then is this some attempt of circumventing the required use of US Flag Jones Act qualified vessels in the construction and support of the new wind farms? What qualifies this entity to run a ship registry?

And to comment on the non-use of US Flag Merchant Mariners- If this is the case I hope that maritime Labor smashes this idea in its infancy…

From this week’s MEBA newsletter:


The Northeast Maritime Institute – Center for Ocean Policy and Economics’ (NMI COPE), a Massachusetts-based maritime college, is pushing ahead with the launch of an open shipping registry based in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The announcement is part of NMI/COPE’s implementation of a strategy looking to jumpstart U.S. shipping as laid out in its newly released “Revitalization Plan for U.S. Maritime Trade, Commerce, and Strategic Competition.” The plan aims to support and assist in resolving America’s supply chain crisis, ensure maritime sovereignty and security, and revitalize maritime commerce. Highlights include the formation of the first U.S. open registry, stepped-up development of short sea shipping, establishment of a maritime venture capital fund and other initiatives designed to make the U.S. more competitive as a maritime nation.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is not subject to the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 and the plan seems to have practical and legal hoops to jump through before fruition. While it is uncertain how the application of the first phase of the plan would affect the Jones Act fleet and the respective mariner workforce, its long-term implications could be deeply problematic.
The plan will be presented on Tuesday at a Washington DC National Press Club event featuring former Secretary of State and Ambassador John Negroponte, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. and many other academic, political and maritime industry luminaries who will attend and participate in a panel discussion. Governor Bryan is expected to sign the agreement between the U.S. Virgin Islands and Northeast Maritime Institute featuring the collaboration on the development of the first open U.S. registry. You can check out the plan by visiting this link:

Northeast Maritime operates the Dominica Registry. A small “gray list” flag of convenience. Presumably, they know something about running a FOC ship register.

A real US Government sponsored US international register is long overdue. One of the primary attractions would be protection of its flag ships by the US Navy. The primary market for the registry would be American ship owners that operate flag of convenience ships in foreign trade. In order to induce owners to register their FOC ships in the new US register, there would need to be incentives, such as: tax breaks, cargo preferences, port access preferences, financing, liability limitation, etc.

A US open register could never compete with other FOCs if it required all American crews. That’s an impossible fantasy.

However, there could be voluntary incentives to employ some American mariners.

Once the US open register is well established, other FOCs could be phased out for U.S. Citizen owners. This would require a law that prohibit US citizen shipowners from using other FOCs.

Gray List doesn’t mean FoC registry.
US was on that list for a while, did that make it an FoC?

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I’m assuming you fully realize that he used FOC and gray list as exclusive qualities and is saying they are both. But you commented anyway as you could not resist the opportunity to make a snarky comment about the U.S.


I don’t think you can find one shipowner anywhere that views the US as a flag of convenience.

If anything the US is viewed as a flag of inconvenience with some of the highest costs in the world.

Not well though if they are a grey list

That is true regarding Negropote. The article says he is only providing opening remarks.

IDK if this will be a requirement but I do know that we don’t have enough mariners to fill US Flag jobs in the current market. Every US Flag shipping company I have talked with this month has a crewing shortage.

True. There could also be certain other protections above what a us mariner would get aboard an FOC ship (as thousands currently are).

The Governor of USVI is a Democrat and so is the point man on this Eric R Dawicki and many of the people involved.

I’m only involved in the periphery but I haven’t seen any evidence of involvement from the windfarm lobby… but anything is possible. This would be a great question to ask on Tuesday.

I don’t know exactly who is behind this on the government side, and I’m not a beltway expert, but I can say with some confidence there is no way the USVI (or uscg or DOS or DOC) would allow it to get this far if there was not very high-level support from somewhere in our government.

“The Revitalization Plan delivers positive national security, trade…”

I failed my connect the dots test in kindergarten but national security is listed first and trade is listed next.

A few related questions

Without sounding too much like the chapter summary of a high school economics textbook I will ask…

Does China have an open registry?

Why might policywonks be interested in rethinking Trade?

Why might people suddenly be interested in ships after decades of total apathy?

Why might some foreign shipowners want Americans aboard?

Are any large American corporations getting into shipping?

What about Wall Street?

How much longer should we all wait for those inside the smoke-filled rooms of US shipping to start thinking outside the box?

There are many reasons a flag could be on the grey list. For the US Flag, the primary reason was that our tonnage is ancient. I know of - but will not name - a flag that takes former black list member ships and helps them improve conditions. I know of a flag state that keeps getting penalized by port state inspectors of a certain communist country that considers it a colony. I know of a flag state that focuses on a segment of the market that has some really bad apples it usually succeeds but sometimes fails to remove from the bushel of mostly good owners.

This is in no way a defense of Dominica, I really don’t know enough about them, but there is a lot of grey areas in the grey list.

Far? It will be far when there is legislation introduced and sponsored. When there are open hearings on Capital Hill in there various subcommittees who have oversight.

Since you are now a big dog in maritime media John, send a message to John Garamendi asking for a his views on this idea?

Look, any country has the right to start a shipping registry, there is no true barrier to entrance. Before everyone blasts this new initiative, why don’t we try and support, offer intelligent recommendations, try to work with them to support US shipping, US mariners, help try and renew the US fleet, while bringing in other tonnage (which is money) to support new maritime infrastructure plans. The problem isn’t USVI or NEMO or John, the problem is all of the people on here that are so stuck in their ways, so stuck in the mud, and mad at life in general.

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I am pretty sure that towing vessels calling internationally with two watch manning was also a factor.


Two watches ought to be a problem for tugs on international voyages, but it rarely is. Lack of STCW ought to be a problem too, but it rarely is. Lack of Oceans licenses doesn’t seem to be much of a problem either.

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Here us the requirements for registering ships under Singapore flag:

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Most large registries (whether you want to say FOC or just Open) has certain benefits. Take your Panama, Liberia, Bahamas, they get a preferential tonnage dues (each vessels tonnage dues) in China for their owners (around 28%), this is significant savings for owners/charterers (can be upwards of $1 million dollars depending on how many times they call Chinese ports and how many vessels). Some registries have online Seafarers applications, online registration, and utilize E-Certs for vessels (another benefit, not used by all registries). There are so many other benefits that certain registries have obtained, and that is how they grow, attract tonnage and keep their clients happy.

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