Greek-owned ships shifting to national flag

Greek shipowners appear to be heeding repeated calls by Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis to fly the Greek flag on their ships. At the end of 2002, according to Lloyd’s data, the number of ships over 100 gross tons (gt) flying the Greek flag came to 1,529, with a total displacement of 28,678,240 gt. These include 1,102 ships over 300 gt. This makes Greece’s merchant fleet the fourth largest in the world, up from fifth place a year ago. Still, most Greek-owned ships fly so-called flags of convenience. The number of Greek-owned ships at the end of 2002 was 3,480, with a total displacement of 98,195,100 gt and a carrying capacity of 164,613,935 deadweight tons (dwt). Greek-owned shipping accounts for 15.5 percent of displacement and 17.8 percent of the carrying capacity of the global merchant fleet. Anomeritis is trying to entice shipowners with the promise of reforms in areas concerning notably crew composition, a longstanding thorny issue with shipowners. Greece’s merchant fleet is classified by the Paris MOU (Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, an international body which includes 19 maritime administrations) as belonging to the «white list,» meaning a high-quality fleet following international standards of maritime safety. The classification is derived from thousands of inspections made annually in ports of call. Besides Greece, the «white list» includes 24 other countries (Barbados, Poland, Bahamas, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, Antigua, Japan, Austria, Bermuda, Luxembourg, Singapore, People’s Republic of China, Isle of Man, Liberia, Israel, Norway, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the UK). The «gray list» includes 27 countries (Kuwait, Portugal, Thailand, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cayman Islands, Qatar, Malaysia, Faroe Islands, Brazil, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Taiwan, Ethiopia, Estonia, Italy, Gibraltar, Saudi Arabia, Netherland Antilles, South Korea, Vanuatu, Philippines, Spain and the USA). The «black list» contains another 25 (Albania, Bolivia, Sao Tome e Principe, Honduras, Algeria, Lebanon, Georgia, Cambodia, Syria, Turkey, Belize, Libya, Tonga, Romania, Morocco, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Egypt, Ukraine, Malta, Panama, India, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Russia). Ships belonging to the «black list» are submitted to long and detailed inspections by EU countries and the USA when they make ports of call. Often, companies owning ships in one of the black-listed countries have re-routed their ships to other ports rather than submit to these inspections.

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