The utter meaninglessness of any flag a ship flies




The Danish International Register (DIS) is gaining popularity and tonnage:

But of course Danes, Norwegians and other Europeans are all idiots and don’t understand how shipping function in the real world. They should all learn from the success story of the US maritime industry.


U.S. flag ships use U.S. officers and crew. Do Danish flag ships use Danish officers and crew?


It is a question of numbers.

Do the second registries employ 100% nationals? No, of course not.

Do they employ any nationals? Yes, the owners want people they know and trust particularly in senior positions.

So is 30% of a 500 ship registry better than 100% of an eighty ship registry? (AFAIK the current US Flag)


Yes they do, but not exclusively.
Here is the list of seafarers engaged on DIS ships (2017):

Similar figures would apply to NIS, FIS, GIS etc. The Dutch and British have a different approach, using their overseas territories for the same purpose.

Singapore have only one register, but it is open to foreign owned and operated vessels on certain conditions:

When I was Master on Singapore ships in the early 1970’s there were only a few dozen ships under Singapore flag. Now, nearly 50 years later, there are several thousand ships in the Singapore registry.
It is among the most favoured in the world by serious and safety conscious Owners and always near the top on the MOU White lists:
Yes there are some Singaporean officers on Singapore (and other) ships, but seafaring is not among the most popular of occupations in Singapore. Those who go that way will quickly and easily find shore based work when they seek it.


My point is not about policy, it simple logic.

U.S. government policy is to maintain a fleet with U.S. officers and U.S. crew.

Agree, disagree, like it, love it , hate it, that’s the policy.

How to implement that policy is a different discussion. If you create a fleet of ships that do NOT have U.S. officers and crew you have NOT solved that problem.

So, if someone points out the the Danish have solved that problem, the question would arise; do the ship have Danish officers and crew? If the answer is no that they have not solved the problem faced by the U.S. government and have instead solved a different problem.

Saying that you disagree with U.S. policy is a different discussion.


The Danes see it differently. They want to continue expending their fleet and attract more Danes to take up a carrera at sea:

I have just attended examination for future Masters, Deck Officers and Engineers at the local Maritime School and, despite the present down turn in the Offshore Marine side, there are still many Norwegian who wants to take up a maritime carrera. Many of them aiming at the Offshore fleet working worldwide, but many also going to the fishery, aquaculture and domestic ferry industry.

PS> The curriculum is the same, based on STCW requirement, regardless of which direction they are aiming. The specializing comes later.


In the aviation world this issue is somewhat solved by ICAO. If your country does not hold pilots and airplanes to ICAO standards, it is possible for your planes to be banned from flying over or landing in countries that care about safety. Granted this doesn’t happen all that often, but partly because the worst offenders just stick to third world dumps that don’t really care.
It also means that if I take my airplane and register it in Outer BFE, even bringing it back to USA registry doesn’t totally erase the hit to the value of the airplane because buyers assume that required maintenance was “pencil whipped” or done by half-literate drunks.


Forgot to mention - the cabotage rules that prevent foreign flag airplanes from engaging in domestic freight and passenger service are under constant attack from companies that would love to fly third-world flagged airplane with third world crews around the USA. I actually lost a nice flying gig when the company was found to have USA front people and foreign owners. Got shut down right quick!


Palau International Ship Registry is going digital: