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Red Ensign Group Awards BVI Shipping Register Top Status

by Amanda Banks,, London

15 June 2007

It was announced at the recent Red Ensign Group (REG) Conference in Guernsey that the UK government's Secretary of State for Transport has agreed to the upgrading of the Virgin Islands Shipping Register (VISR) to Category 1 status limited to general cargo ships.

The decision has been made following extensive consultation between the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), VISR and with the British Virgin Isles (BVI) Governor and his staff. The BVI has recently completed a 3 year programme to meet REG Category 1 standards.

The MCA carried out a monitoring visit in October 2006 and the VISR was found to have met the technical requirements to become a REG Category 1 Register limited to general cargo ships including large commercial yachts (mega yachts) of less than 3000 GT.

The VISR upgrade to Category 1 status will be implemented by an order made under Section 18 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. Monitoring arrangements and details of conditions for maintaining compliance with Category 1 standards will be covered by a Memorandum of Understanding between the MCA and VISR.

The Red Ensign Group, in addition to the United Kingdom, consists of the Shipping registers of UK overseas territories, including: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, St Helena, Isle of Man, Jersey, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Four of these are Category 1 Registers - unrestricted as to the size of ships they may register - namely Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man and the UK.

The group meets annually in one of the member countries to exchange views on the policies and technical issues in respect of regulation, marine safety, pollution prevention and the welfare of seafarers for ships on their registers worldwide and for visiting ships in their waters.

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