**Maritime Board Named**
Prime Minister Perry G. Christie yesterday named the new Bahamas Maritime Authority Board members, charging them with responsibility for monitoring maritime activity and increasing the Bahamas Ship Registry.
The Ship Registry is considered to be the third largest in the world, with over 1400 ships, totalling in excess of 34 million gross tons. The Authority maintains offices in Nassau, London and New York, with plans for another office to open in Greece. The BMA operates an agency in Tokyo.
**Growth With Quality**
Writing recently for an industry publication, J. Mervyn Jones, Director of The Bahamas Maritime Authority said, *”One of the reasons why The Bahamas is popular as a flag is that the ship registry is part of a wider appeal of The Bahamas as a major tourist attraction and financial centre. In each of these industries – tourism, finance, and shipping – the aim of the Bahamian Government is to focus on quality.”* The Director also maintains that the ongoing policy for the Authority has been “growth with quality” — demonstrated by the number of high quality owners now using the Register. In addition to these high standards, its success can be attributed to many of the factors which have positioned the country as a leading financial services centre: a progressive legislative and judicial system, political stability, neutral tax regime, competitive fees.
The Bahamas lays claim to having the fastest growing ship register amongst the world’s major flag states. The register comprises a wide variety of different types of ships, but is particularly strong in the passenger ship sector, and the Bahamas is credited with being the number one choice for the world’s leading cruise operators. It also is well favored in the tanker sector, boasting within its ranks three of the 5 largest tankers in the world.
Eduardo Gonzalez of Morgan & Morgan (London) writes, *”One of the undoubted reasons for the popularity of The Bahamas Ship Register is that the legislative and judicial systems in The Bahamas are closely modeled on that of the United Kingdom – and therefore familiar to most banks, lawyers, and ship owners – although with enough independence from it to assure the most flexible approach without compromising legal security.”*
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1976 encouraged the use of The Bahamas registry by foreign ship owners, with ongoing important amendments improving this structure. In 1976, The Bahamas also joined the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and has since become a party to that institution’s principal conventions relating to safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment. Since November 1999, it also has been a member of the IMO’s Governing Council, represented at this level by the Bahamas High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
The Bahamas Register of Ships was in its origins the Maritime Division of the Ministry of Transport and, therefore, an entity entirely under the supervision and management of the Government of The Bahamas. In 1994, the register was already the world’s fifth largest and it became clear that a more dedicated professional body was required by both users and the government in order to maintain the standards of quality achieved up to then in service and reputation. A review of the system was undertaken, which process culminated in the creation of The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA).
The Bahamas Maritime Authority Act came into force in July 1995, allowing the management of the register to be conducted with greater flexibility than before, and on a more commercial basis. The Management Board, while almost completely autonomous, remains an arm of the Bahamas Government.
The BMA is responsible for ship registrations; ship inspections; manning and the issuing of crew licenses; investigation of casualties; follow up to port state interventions; maritime policy issues; and finance and administration.
The Chairman of the new Board is Anthony McKinney, with Peter Goulandris as Deputy Cairman, and other members including Pedro Rolle, William Bardelmeier, Dudley Martinborough, Jackson Ritchie and Gary Sawyer.