Continuing the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry’s tradition of industry collaboration and sharing of best practices, the Marshall Islands Quality Council (MIQC) held its biannual meeting virtually in December 2021. The MIQC is a consultative consortium of industry experts and leaders that gather to share experiences, information, and awareness on a diverse range of industry issues. Meetings are attended by MIQC members, invited guest speakers, and RMI Registry personnel.
The December 2021 MIQC meeting was the third one to be held virtually due to COVID-19. While global travel restrictions prevented a large gathering, small groups were able to attend together in London and Reston. Theo Xenakoudis, Director, Worldwide Business Operations, was able to travel to International Registries, Inc. (IRI) headquarters for the first time since March 2020 to attend the meeting with Bill Gallagher, meeting moderator Rear Admiral (RADM) Kevin Cook, and others from the Reston office. The December meeting included half-day series of seminars and panel discussions.
Discussions included RMI Registry updates, sharing of port State control changes and trends, as well as updates on the work of various governing bodies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO). One of the key elements of the MIQC meetings are member panelists, who are invited to share their expertise, perspective, and insight on issues currently affecting the maritime industry.
The two key topics discussed during the December 2021 meeting touched on issues which arose during the pandemic, specifically seafarers’ rights and welfare, and remote inspections.
Protecting the health and safety of seafarers, while protecting their rights, has been a topic of increasing importance during the pandemic as shipowners, operators, and managers navigate ever-changing travel, public health, and safety regulations. Torbjørn Eide, Vice President, Maritime Personnel, Klaveness Ship Management, provided a ship management perspective on these topical issues.
Joining the discussion on remote inspections were members Christian Obst, Fleet Manager – Maritime Technical Project Manager, Columbia Ship Management; Stuart Edmonston, Loss Prevention Director, Thomas Miller P&I Ltd.; and Richard Beckett, Global Head of Technology – Survey & Inspection, Lloyd’s Register. Remote inspections provided a critical connection between the flag State and vessels during the pandemic when in-person inspections were note possible. The Registry does not consider remote inspections to be equivalent to the value, insight, and review provided by physical inspections and therefore reverted back to physical inspections where permitted by local regulations. This panel discussed and reviewed remote inspections from the flag State and various industry perspectives, with a focus on whether a hybrid of remote and in-person could be implemented and used in the future to support the necessary statutory inspections.
The pandemic has underscored the importance of free flow of information between industry stakeholders and flag. As a long-time proponent of information sharing and collaboration, the RMI Registry remains fully committed to providing a platform for shared support and best practices.