As we enter 2022, the UK Flag teams have taken a moment to reflect on the past year. 2021 featured many highlights as the UK flag has continued to lead the way in seafarer welfare, innovation, and maritime safety.
Leading the way in Seafarer welfare
To show how much we value the work of our seafarers; we’ve been working quickly to adapt and modernise our services for seafarers over the last 12 months. We started by introducing new photocard style certificates in early 2021 as the UK continues to drive forward maritime services to protect and support them.
As of February, this year, UK seafarers and those working on UK-flagged vessels have received their new photocard certificates from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), wherever they are in the world.
Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers. our seafarer safety and health team compiled the new Marine Information Notice (MIN) 656, to boost understanding and provide mitigating strategies for organisations.
This initiative continues to drive forward the highest standards of shipping safety, providing services and support for shipping operators registered with the UK. The guidance draws on the recently published Wellbeing at Sea guides, which provide practical advice for the optimal care of seafarers.
Earlier in the year, the publication of the International Chamber of Shipping’s (ICS) Flag State Performance Table (2020/21) gave us a further boost as one of the world’s top performers in maritime safety.
This publication identifies the flag states which perform to a consistently high standard, benchmarking them across numerous categories, with the UK achieving positive markers across each of the performance indicators.
In addition to retaining our Tokyo and Paris MoU Whitelist status this year, we were once again awarded with US QUALSHIP 21 (Quality Shipping for the 21st Century) status, one of the world’s top standards.
It is granted by the US Coast Guard (USCG) to flag administrations and vessel owners that consistently demonstrate a commitment to quality and safety.
Taking to the Seas
The beginning of the year saw P&O Cruises newest ship Iona join the UK Flag. A ship at the forefront of technology, with novel features and LNG fueled. You can watch how the MCA added value to the delivery of largest ship in the UK Fleet.
Saga’s newest cruise ship - Spirit of Adventure took her inaugural voyage in July, a year after she was ready to first take passengers on board due to the pandemic disrupting the delivery schedule.
Both Saga and the MCA worked hard to adapt to the changing needs during lockdown, to ensure the minimum amount of disruption to the building and certification process. Overcoming these challenges would ensure her inaugural voyage took place when the cruise ships returned to our shores this year.
James Langley, Marine and Technical Operations Director at Saga, said: “
“The MCA has been an important partner in helping us to reach this milestone after Adventure’s entry into service was delayed due to the pandemic, ensuring we had a safe layup and supporting us to overcome numerous challenges.
“We’re extremely proud to fly the British Ensign on our ships and look forward to continuing to build our relationship with the MCA as we embark on this exciting new chapter for Saga Cruises.”
London International Shipping Week (LISW21)
LISW21 did not disappoint and lived up to the claim to be the ‘must attend shipping event of 2021’. Offering hybrid and virtual attendance, enabled us to welcome a small in-person audience for our events (with Covid measures in place), however most of our audience joined us virtually - from all over the world.
Supported by colleagues from across the MCA, as well as various industry partners who participated in our panel sessions, we were able to drive some interesting and impactful discussions around maritime growth, innovation, and sustainability. Decarbonisation was certainly one of the hot topics with a lot of potential options for the sector raised.
The Chancellor announced a series of measures to stimulate growth in the maritime industry, with landmark changes to the UK Tonnage Tax back in October.
The plans are the first shake up the Tonnage Tax rules have had in over two decades, and mean that from April 2022, ships registered to the UK and those who help the UK reach net-zero will both be more likely to be accepted if applying to the UK’s Tonnage Tax regime.