A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting in our Fort Lauderdale office with many of our global inspectors and auditors. For some of our team members, this was the first time they have been able to gather in a large group since the pandemic started, and I cannot underscore how incredible it was to be all together again. From the energy in the room to the focus on finding collaborative solutions, the meeting lit a fire under each of us to see how we could do our jobs better, find new solutions for our clients, and take things to the next level of service and support.
This is, of course, not new for us. For many years we have focused on going beyond what is required in all areas of our business. From building a network of 28 worldwide offices which allows for 24/7 support, to building digital tools to facilitate compliance and ensuring that technical support is available free of charge, our organization has always strived to go beyond what is expected. Far from requiring more of our clients, our network of people and infrastructure and the processes they employ, help streamline compliance, improve inspection efficiencies, and do so in the local language during local business hours. Exceeding expectations requires a commitment from our entire team, a commitment to not only remain afloat, but to flourish and go beyond finding temporary solutions and in turn, establish long-lasting solutions. That focus on long-term excellence has earned us the honor of being the only flag State in the world to achieve the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG’s) QUALSHIP 21 status for 18 consecutive years. This distinction puts the Marshall Islands Registry in the unique position of being the only one of the three largest open registries that meets the requirements to offer E-ZERO eligibility. These distinctions are more than just accolades, they provide real, hands-on benefits to our vessels from faster turnaround times at port to a reduced frequency of inspections, requiring less crew time on paperwork. These honors are also recognized by the finance and insurance side of the industry, which consider QUALSHIP 21 and E-ZERO designations as marks of high compliance and safe vessel operation.
Moving beyond what is required, our global team interacts regularly with the port State control (PSC) authorities of leading maritime nations outside of inspections, ensuring that our relationships are professional, collaborative, and solution driven. Recently leaders of our fleet management team went to Australia to meet with the Australian Maritime Safety Administration (AMSA) at their headquarters, and this summer our team visited several USCG districts. We were also able to welcome for the first time since the pandemic, USCG and other global PSC representatives into our offices again. These deep ties help us find solutions when questions arise, proactively identify global trends, and even provide security in times of geopolitical crisis.
The concept of moving beyond inspires us to look internally as well to see how we can better serve our clients. Earlier this year we opened two new offices, Vancouver and Qingdao, to improve client services to match the busy trading patterns of the Pacific. In the wake of John Ramage’s retirement, we promoted Theo Xenakoudis to Chief Commercial Officer and Simon Bonnett to Chief Maritime Officer to ensure we had appropriate leadership resources devoted to our clients and lines of business. These changes underscore our commitment to appropriately resourcing our network of offices so that we can respond, address, and process client requests quickly and with the professionalism for which we are known. This professionalism was on display at our Fort Lauderdale meeting as our fleet operations team members looked to each other to see how they could share information, best practices, improve process efficiencies, and more. From those discussions came ideas on how to maximize the time of auditors and inspectors onboard and create synergies, not for our own efficiency, but to improve crew efficiency during the demanding hours a vessel is at port.
And that is truly the key take away from our business. We are moving beyond what is required, not for our sake, but for that of our vessels, crew, owners/operators, and other industry stakeholders.