Beyond a Bridge: 15 Years in Mumbai

27 January 2023

When the Mumbai office of International Registries, Inc. and its affiliate (IRI) opened in 2008, IRI’s senior leadership saw incredible potential in India.

“Mumbai sits between East Asia and Europe, so we are a natural time zone and geographic bridge between the offices,” said Captain Sanjay Maini, Country Head – India. “When we opened 15 years ago, dozens of Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) flagged vessels transited along the Indian coast, so we were not only a critical bridge between key regions, but also a local service office.”

Captain Maini opened the office with the immediate focus of hiring qualified inspectors to conduct annual inspections from major ports around India to save owners/operators on travel costs for inspections. His second priority was to harness the opportunity to work with local maritime academies and crewing offices to develop a strong seafarer documentation department.

“India is the second largest source of seafarers,” said Captain Maini. “Indian officers are well trained, and we receive excellent reports from our fleet regarding the capability, training, and experience of Indian officers. Bearing this in mind, we worked with local partners to develop an examination and documentation department out of Mumbai to support the crewing needs of our operators.”

A seafarer himself, with more than 20 years at sea, Captain Maini was experienced in developing and implementing safety, quality, and security standards before joining IRI. He had also developed strong relationships with local institutes and academies, serving as a part-time lecturer.

“In 2008, there were less than 20 crewing agencies, based out of India, which catered to RMI flagged vessels. Today, thanks to our strong reputation and record, nearly 100 agencies cater to RMI flagged vessels,” noted Captain Maini.

The immense number of qualified seafarers and crewing agencies located throughout India has resulted in the Mumbai office producing nearly 30 percent of worldwide seafarer documentation for the RMI Maritime Administrator.

“India will remain a key geographic center for seafarers,” noted Captain Maini. “With several new qualified training institutes recently approved by the Indian government, I expect to see a further increase in the number of trained seafarers and officers coming from India.”

Today, Mumbai is a full-service IRI office, offering not only inspections, seafarer documentation and examination services, but also registration, technical, and radio services for clients, as well as marketing and IT to support IRI efforts worldwide.

“India is not traditionally a large ship owning country, but we hope to see that changing. However, India has evolved as a hub for ship management companies. In 2008 there were approximately 30 RMI flagged vessels which were managed by an Indian based office. Today there are over 300 such vessels. Local operators need solutions, support, and service in their own time zone and language, and we have proven ourselves as a high-quality, well respected service provider,” said Captain Maini. “During the most restrictive periods of the pandemic, our team was available and accessible to clients. Our proactive approach, accessibility, and reputation are well recognized.”

Last year, IRI Mumbai hosted its 5th Nautical Inspectors’ seminar, with participants coming from across Asia and beyond. The event attracted stakeholders from all aspects of India’s maritime industry. Looking ahead, Captain Maini credits his team with the office’s success and its future growth.

“Every member of our team has been hand-picked and referred to us by someone we know. That provides a high level of trust in what we do and the team we have,” he said. “We are well positioned and prepared for the future.”