The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the maritime industry, with travel and movement restrictions worldwide preventing everything from crew change to conferences. But as with any challenge, reliable and consistent communication and cooperation can lead to innovative problem-solving.
All 28 Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry offices have focused on client communication and connection during the pandemic:
- working virtually with Classification Societies, vessel owners and operators, port State control (PSC) authorities, and regulatory bodies worldwide to provide critical guidance and support in keeping the RMI fleet seamlessly engaged in global trade;
- holding regular “check-in” calls with maritime and corporate clients, not only to support owners and operators with crew change challenges and supporting seafarer welfare, but also to update law firms on the recently launched Economic Substance Regulations Reporting Portal; and
- implementing guidelines and advisories that allow for temporary alternative inspection arrangements, such as remote inspections and video conferencing, when an in-person inspection is not possible.
Early in the pandemic, the Piraeus office focused on providing collaborative solutions for Registry clients with live video conferencing. Since April, the team has also participated in a number of virtual events, with Theo Xenakoudis and other team members serving as panelists or delegates at events like the web conference on the inventory of hazardous materials (IHM) at Riviera Maritime Media, the Cyprus Shipping Conference, decarbonization seminars, Isalos webinars, the “Synergy Needed” webinar at the Mare Forum, Safety4Sea’s virtual events, and many more. The Piraeus office proudly supported the 2020 virtual Lloyd’s List Greek Shipping Awards, recognizing the winners and celebrating the achievements of the last year, as well as the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame, paying tribute to important shipping personalities of the past.
Most exciting of all, the Piraeus team has participated and supported client workshops and training forums virtually giving presentations on PSC inspections to help inform and educate clients on observed deficiencies and the role of the flag State. These training sessions are typically held in person during a normal year, but video conferencing has been a boon for workshops. One such conference, held by Springfield Shipping, attracted 70 in-house participants.
While 2020 has not been a normal year for any of us, focusing on virtual meetings and attending virtual conferences has helped maintain our close and collaborative relationships worldwide.