A major registry office in the heart of the world’s largest ship owning cluster has helped support Greek owners through the past six months of difficulties. The Registry’s Piraeus office is home to a strong team of experts who have been available to provide advice and guidance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the transition to IMO 2020.

Theo Xenakoudis, Director Worldwide Business Operations and Managing Director of the Piraeus office explains that life in Athens has begun to return to a degree of normality.

“Business is going well,” he says. “We have seen a number of ships changing hands in the past couple of months, including delivery of newbuildings, which I take as a positive sign.”

 The Piraeus office is one of seven offices responsible for issuing seafarers’ documents. Worldwide governmental restrictions and limitations on crew changes slowed down seafarer documentation issuance between March and June. As of today, there are still ongoing challenges related to crew changes and replacements worldwide; however, judging by the volume of seafarer paperwork now being handled by Piraeus, it looks like the documentation team is back to handling over 5,000 documents a month, with no backlog of documents waiting to be issued. Seafarer documents are currently being turned around within 30 days. Temporary certificates, which are valid for three months, are being issued within 24 hours.

The Piraeus office is physically large enough to implement social distancing requirements and the majority of the team is now working from the office.

Like businesses everywhere, the Registry’s Piraeus team has seen a shift in the use of remote technology. “We are starting to see some clients face-to-face, but most remain more comfortable with remote meetings,” notes Xenakoudis.

Much of the day-to-day liaison with shipowners to discuss Marine Safety Advisories, Marine Notices, crew changes, and feedback on vessel performance has been conducted remotely. The team has also participated in numerous remote officer conferences to provide updates on port State control (PSC) trends.

The Marshall Islands flag continues to be the top quality foreign flag for Greek owners. The Piraeus team has full authority to issue dispensations, answer technical questions, conduct flag State inspections, and process seafarers’ documentation – every aspect of flag State support and vessel registration. The seafarers’ documentation team remains busy undertaking the rigorous checks and validations needed to issue seafarers’ documentation.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands outperforms Panama and Liberia in quality and detention records as reported in the 2019 rankings by all three of the major PSC authorities. “Steady growth and expansion of quality tonnage is our main goal; careful consideration is given to new additions in our fleet (ships and managers), the enforcement of regulations, and performance monitoring of current ships as we do not want to risk getting targeted by the USCG, like Liberia and Panama did this year,” Xenakoudis added.

“Our owners and operators know that by flying the RMI flag, they represent the highest quality safety standards in the industry and receive knowledgeable, reliable support no matter the situation,” concluded Xenakoudis.

Source: Hellenic shipping