December 06 2003
BVI ON THE WAY TO CATEGORY
ONE SHIPPING REGISTRY
A GIS Feature By Daniel Singh
Government’s vision of elevating the BVI to Category One Shipping Registry
within the Red Ensign Group is well on the way to becoming a reality.
Director of the Shipping Registry of the Financial Services Commission (FSC)
Capt. Baboucar Sallah believes that, despite some challenges, the process is
“To become Category One entails a radical change in both the function
and scope of work that we have to do,” he told the Government Information
Service (GIS) in a recent interview.
He added that Category One status brings with it
greater obligation to implement and comply with international maritime
conventions dealing with safety of ships, protection of the environment and
- “It means that the Shipping Registry
and, especially, overall maritime administration in the BVI must be so
developed that we will have the capacity to ensure the safety and
environmental fitness of vessels on our register,” Capt. Sallah
Capt. Sallah emphasised that the “most important and indispensable”
prerequisite for the BVI to become Category One is appointing appropriate
professionally qualified personnel in the field of international maritime
In particular, he revealed that Government has given the go-ahead for two
Category One Surveyors to be recruited, adding that he expects the
appointments to be in place by the end of this year or early in 2004.
The two Surveyors will be assigned to the Marine Services Department, under
the Ministry of Communications and Works.
After the appointments, the Office of the Governor, relevant Government
ministries, the International Finance Centre and the FSC, in collaboration
with the United Kingdom (UK) Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), will
be well-placed to accelerate intensive groundwork, which will lead up to the
BVI formally applying to the British Government for evaluation and eventual
upgrading to Red Ensign Category One status.
“With everything in place, as we hope it will be, Category One status is
likely to be achieved by the BVI Government before the end of next year,” he
Capt. Sallah stressed that the drive to become Category One is “extremely
important,” since it will benefit the territory in areas such as financial
services, environmental protection, and port and ship security.
“This is something that the entire territory will be proud of achieving.
Government will have an administration in the BVI that is able to deal with
the total spectrum of maritime activity and public responsibility,” he
Capt. Sallah recalled that the move to ascend to Category One began about
eight years ago but that, more recently, Government has intensified its
efforts to achieve this status.
In addition, Chief Minister Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith has repeatedly
affirmed Government’s commitment to putting in place the measures,
regulations and resources that are essential to raising the BVI Shipping
Registry and general maritime administration in the territory to Category One
The Red Ensign Group is a British-based
affiliation of shipping registries, which share a common ethos and standards
for safety and environmental protection, and is subject to scrutiny and
control by the UK Government, through its executive agency, the MCA.
- The territory is currently ranked as
Category Two Registry, meaning that it can generally register ships of
up to 150 gross tons (GRT) and pleasure vessels, that is, those not
operated commercially, of up to 400 GRT.
- Pleasure vessels, by definition, refer to
ships used for sport or pleasure, and which are not operated
commercially for example, if a particular boat is operated for
charter, it is deemed to be a commercial vessel.
- A full definition of pleasure vessels is
provided in Section Two of the (BVI) Merchant Shipping Act 2001.
- According to the Capt. Sallah, becoming
Category One will allow registration of all sizes and types of vessels,
with few exceptions, such as nuclear-powered ships and those specialised
in carrying particularly hazardous or dangerous cargoes, which the BVI
will, initially, be unlikely to have the capacity to manage.
- At the moment, by virtue of a Memorandum
of Understanding arising out of British legislation and signed between
the BVI and the MCA, the territory may register pleasure vessels
of up to 400 GRT, provided that they comply with a special safety and
The Registry of Shipping a corporate service to shipping is
operated as a Division of the FSC, which is an autonomous regulatory and
executive agency of Government.
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