2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, across every sector, across the globe. The rapid spread of COVID-19 affected the global shipping markets, bringing uncertainty on how to deal with these unchartered waters and the need for immediate solutions. Despite the global pandemic affecting the industry at great magnitudes, the UK Ship Register (UKSR) has worked hard to meet and exceed the challenges and achieve notable milestones. Here’s a snapshot of some of our highlights from 2020.
In the summer, the UKSR announced the opening of the first overseas sales hub in Greece, as part of the ambitious growth plans for the UK Flag.
Greece is known for its rich maritime heritage, so the expansion will enable us to build valuable long-term partnerships with local ship owners, as well as strengthen the presence of the Flag in the Greek shipping industry.
Since the launch of the new office, we have hosted the first online event supporting the Greek and Cypriot community. With over 100 event registrations, the webinar was open to international ship owners and management companies, along with key advisors. Some of the high profile attendees of the event included the UK’s Maritime Minister Robert Courts, the UK’s Ambassador to Greece Ms Kate Smith, as well as Katy Ware - Director of UK Maritime Services MCA and Dan Vivian - Commercial Director of the UKSR.
Recognising excellence in the Greek shipping community
As the UKSR is renowned as a world class flag bearer for maritime safety and innovation, we were proud to support this year’s prestigious Lloyds List Greek Shipping Awards for the first time, which took place online in December.
Our Piraeus based sales executive Andriani Vodena, presented the Achievement in Education and Training Award to the National Technical Institute of Athens as part of the virtual awards evening om 4 December.
Award winning digital registration
In September, we released a new look Red Ensign alongside a comprehensive online registration system. The upgrade is part of the continued modernisation of services to ship owners and operators worldwide and bolsters our international offer to help keep the shipping world moving.
The innovative system has already had 6,500 new users, 15 000 sessions and has collected industry accolades within just months of its launch, being highly commended at not one but two technology awards in November.
Supporting shipping and seafarers
When much of the world closed its doors to travel and shipping, and the pandemic escalated, it had a huge impact on those at sea. In March there were 19,180 British nationals on cruise ships around the world. Some vessels in UK ports had confirmed COVID cases on board while 15,527 crew members from 112 nationalities on ships in British waters needed help to get home. These logistical challenges were compounded by the shortage of flights and charter planes, world time differences and the bureaucracy surrounding international travel such as visas and immigration.
The emerging global humanitarian crisis needed exceptional measures to help people and keep vital shipping moving at an exceptional time.
The effort and level of detail behind the response was significant. From collaborating with operators and foreign governments to securing air lanes and charter flights to repatriate otherwise stranded crew members and foreign nationals. The maritime industry worked closely together – including the UKSR – to provide real time access to government support for crew welfare and safety.
The response also involved helping to smooth the path for operators so all vessels could dock in ports around the UK, allowing crew changeovers whilst ensuring stability of supply.
In October, we proudly announced that IONA had joined the UK Flag.
IONA is the latest cruise liner to join the P&O fleet Cruises and one of the world’s few LNG (liquefied natural gas) powered cruise ships.
The luxury liner accommodates up to 5,200 passengers with a length of 344 metres, making it one of the largest cruise ships in the world and the largest ship in the UK fleet.
Looking back and ahead to 2021
As we wrap up this year in anticipation for what 2021 may bring, we couldn’t have achieved as much as we have if hadn’t been for the support, continued dedication and adaptability of those working within the UKSR, the wider teams at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and our partners: thank you.