The utter meaninglessness of any flag a ship flies


It DOES appear that if Joe Schmoe has been Electrician, Crane Operator or in “eqv. supervisory position” (Camp Boss??) for 1 year and have passed a multiple choice exam at the end of the 5 days/36 hrs OIM MODU Course (+ hold valid survival, fifi and medical certificates), he’ll be good to go as OIM on a rig with >100 pers. on board working in the GoM.

Unfortunately the most popular FOCs used by American Drilling Contractors accept this as well.
Luckily not all shelf states are as “tolerant”.


Still incorrect.


Please post the correct requirements then. Maybe PhD???


You posted the correct requirements but you didn’t interpret then correctly.

4 years of sea time on a MODU.
1 year of that in a supervisory position.

While I disagree that crane operator or some of their other options should qualify it’s not just “1 year as crane operator”.


OK, so 3 years as Roustabout and 1 year as Crane Operator will do per the rules. (No matter what you think)
Maybe 3 years as messboy and 1 year as Camp boss would be to stretch it a bit??


How is that any less qualified than a Chief Mate with 84 days on an MODU?


I don’t know.

Maybe you can tell me how anybody can approve of someone with any of the two mentioned “qualifications” to be in overall charge of an offshore rig with >100 people on board operating anywhere in the world??


By looking at their resume and conducting an interview, just like how any company decides on which senior officer to hire.


Contrary to popular belief not every shipowner in the world is a greedy pig with no social conscience:
How disappointing.


Interesting thread but a bit out of my element so a few questions …

This thread has talked about both Flags of Convenience (FOC) and Open Registries … what’s the difference?
Who actually authorizes a country to start a ship registry? Does the IMO have to allow it? I think Bolivia was mentioned as a land locked country with a registry? It wouldn’t seem like they would be a part of a maritime organization like IMO, does a country get to just do it if they want to? Someone mentioned shutting down flags of convenience, who would actually do that?

I’m not sure I’m exactly clear on why it would it be important to be a legal resident of the “flag state”? It seems like a good owner is a good owner regardless of where they register their vessels. Does registering my ships/boats somewhere else automatically make me a bad owner somehow? Conversely does where I register my vessel automatically make me a good owner? It seems to me like taking care of my crew and operating safe vessels are not automatic based on the flag on the back.

There were a few references to the IRS and corporate lawyers and being good corporate citizens, are FOCs just a tax dodge, I thought we were talking about safety records like the other thread about the US being on a “grey list” of some kind. Someone else talked about the jobs, is this really just about more American jobs, which I totally agree is a good thing.

Is the complaint about the regulations themselves or really just about how they are enforced? This all interests me more these days since Subchapter M is about to happen. I know a big topic of conversation is about whether to us the USCG or the Third Party Option. Almost everyone I talked to likes the 3rd party option better because it means less dealing with the USCG. Is that part of the problem for blue water owners going to foreign flags?

Someone mentioned class societies doing everything for the register/flag, do you mean the register has no role whatsoever? Do they really let surveyors make all their decisions for them? It seems like you would get so many different rule applications but its got to be easier than having to ask the USCG for everything. Does the USCG makes all the decisions from DC for all US-flagged deep sea ships?

This has been an educational thread so far, thanks


That’s why they started in the first place.


Pretty much, except to collect their fee.


Wow … and they are all like that. Do they even write their version of CFRs or do the class do that too? Ive read in Subchapter M about things like being able to sail past survey dates and with broken equipment, so the class society allows that or does their version of the USCG do that? It just seems crazy to me.


They generally don’t have a version of the USCG. In most cases the whole flag is run out of offices in West Virginia. IIRC, they’re actually US corporations that just pay a little money to the country whose name they’re using.


I can see where this just doesn’t sound right, but based on the other thread regarding the US and the “grey list” at least some of them seem to be doing OK with it. Is it that its systemically a problem, or is just that some are better at it then others?


The answers to the questions you have raised are what grind our gears. It matters little whether we are talking about US or European flag ships; they are mostly surveyed on behalf of the government bodies by the Classification Societies – who generally think they are closely related to the Almighty. This process is pretty doubtful, as nearly all accident investigations have determined, (have a look at the Marine Electric report) and things probably get worse when we are considering the flags of countries that are little more than atolls sticking out of the Pacific or deserts in central Asia. Mongolia has a registry . St Vincent and the Grenadines, two small islands in the Caribbean have hundreds of ships registered with them. The president of Tanzania recently suspended their registry due to 45 of their ships breaking sanctions with North Korea, one being detained due to the fact that it was carrying a cargo of explosives and another seized with over a ton of cocaine on board. The issue is that the classification societies are carrying out work on behalf of the registries but being paid by the ship-owners. This, some say, is a conflict of interests. These commercial registries are all represented at the IMO and therefore have considerable influence, so any proposals to change the system would be vigorously opposed. I would like to see the IMO controlling a fund, to which the registries would contribute, in order for proper investigations into accidents to be commissioned, but it’s not going to happen.


What if we removed the relationships between flag state, shipowners and Classification Societies? The Classification Societies would deal solely with the Insurance companies and Insurance would be compulsory in much the same way as P & I Insurance is. The shipowner would be free to select the Insurance company of their choice but the Insurance companies being risk averse would put pressure on the Classification Societies to ensure that they were insuring a seaworthy vessel. Port State inspections by a properly qualified Government employed inspector would keep the system honest in the countries that the majority of international shipping wishes to trade - the OECD countries.


That would be great and more accurately reflect the original intent of classification societies.

Now the question is how do we get that change enacted?


As I understand it isn’t a flag state a sovereign nation? So it seems like these FoCs and open registries (I’m still not clear on the difference) are just a government contracting for services, am I missing something?


You are not missing something. Legally a sovereign nation contracts a private company to act on their behalf as their Flag State Authority. Nothing wrong with that, in legal terms at least.

In reality private companies are “buying” the right to use a flag and “sell” that flag to shipowners who find it convenient to use a flag other than the national flag of their domicile. The reasons can be many, but usually it is nothing illegal.

Some (especially European) flag states has found that they are missing out and have established a Second (or Open) Register, where the requirement of domicile and nationality of crews have been eased to attract shipowners to register their ships, thus maintaining a fleet under their flag.

Also nothing wrong, or illegal with that, as long as they maintain the same standard as for the first (or National) register. The main difference is crew costs, since they are allowed to pay local wages for crews from lower cost countries, (As long as the pay is at least ITF approved rates)

Tax has very little to do with it, since most countries do not tax their shipping companies, regardless of which flag their ships fly. Same with safety and ship standard. They still have to comply with IMO and ILO rules of operation and the ships have to be built and maintained to Class rules to obtain insurance.

Any hope that US owners who now use FOCs will become patriotic and register under US flag is pipe dreams, as long as USA insist on being “different” from everybody else.
It is not only the difference in wages, but all the other things that goes with it.
(I’m NOT talking about standards of ships, safety rules, or crew training standard and quality)

BTW; From your questioning here I get a feeling you know a lot more about this subject then you want to let on.(??)