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The shipping registry of the Caribbean territory Saint Kitts and Nevis has become the latest of five flag state authorities to sign up to the Washington Declaration as part of international efforts to tackle piracy and acts of violence against seafarers.
The Washington Declaration was signed by Richard Skerritt, the islands' Minister for International Transport, in a ceremony at the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) headquarters in London.
The Declaration recognises that violence against crew through piracy and armed robbery is largely under-reported. Signatory states commit to better documentation of incidents to help combat the problem. The information is collated by the International Maritime Bureau - part of the International Chamber of Commerce - which maintains a central database recording attacks on commercial shipping. Recently, other signatories have included the Bahamas, Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama.
A total of four ships flagged under the Saint Kitts and Nevis ensign have been involved in hijackings, three in the Indian Ocean, and one off Cameroon. In all cases the ships and crew were eventually released. The registry has encouraged ships entering the western Indian Ocean to log their voyage plans with European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVOR) security forces, which have been given access to the St Kitts & Nevis LRIT National Data Centre to enhance monitoring of passages through the protected area.
The signing is one of a number of measures being undertaken by the Registry to engage with other authorities and agencies internationally. The Registry has recently received recognition for further improvements in Port State Control (PSC) performance, and is preparing to engage in the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme (VISMAS). Meanwhile, in another milestone, the St. Kitts & Nevis Department of Maritime Affairs has just hosted the annual meeting of the Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control.
First-half results from PSC inspections of St Kitts-registered ships have confirmed the registry’s progress since launching enhanced supervisory measures in 2010. Among the main PSC regimes where its vessels operate, detentions under the Black Sea Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) fell to zero compared with six in the first half last year. In the Paris MOU region, the average number of deficiencies per inspection dropped from six to four and there was a 20% improvement in the number of ships with no deficiencies.
Registrar Nigel Smith commented: “The trend shows we are on track for our aim of PSC Grey and White List ranking within two and four years at most. At the 20th session of the IMO Flag State Implementation sub-committee in March, it was very encouraging to hear Paris MOU delegates make positive statements about the actions we have taken in the past two years.”
Operational since 2005, the Saint Kitts and Nevis Registry has implemented strengthened procedures including risk profiling, daily analysis of PSC website reports, follow-up surveys in the case of detentions and a ‘three strikes and out’ warning system for repeat offenders.
Lastly, the Registry has confirmed that it had successfully applied to undergo a VISMAS audit, which is scheduled for the second half of next year. In preparation the Registry is undergoing improvements to its internal processes, and increasing oversight over those empowered to carry out surveys and statutory certification on its behalf.
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