"We are proud of our long history and experience. The aim of our Register is to maintain its leading position in the shipping sector," points out the Ambassador and Consul General of Panama Greece, H.E. Julie Lymberopulos in her interview at maritimes.gr.
H.E. Julie Lymberopulos analyzes the advantages and the vision of the Panama Ship Registry, emphasizing that the strengths and strategy of the Panama Ship Registry are reengineering process, international compliance, technology and innovation and excellent customer service.
The Ambassador also explains how the Panama Registry respond to the needs of shipowners as shaped by the coronavirus crisis, noting that the Panama Registry's network of 53 Consular Offices and 14 International Segumar Technical Offices around the world offer their clients a 24/7 services following all guidelines and measures imposed.
"In 2020, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Panama Ship Registry marked an increase of 6.22% compared to 2019 with 8,516 vessels."
Responding to how the Panama Registry manages the major challenges facing the shipping industry such as the new environmental regulations. The Ambassador referred to the strong ties of Greek shipping and the Registry, emphasizing: "Greece is the largest ship-owing country and Panama has the largest ship registry."
The facilities and services provided by the Embassy and General Consulate of Panama in Piraeus, Greece, highlight the ability, specialization and extensive experience of its staff.
The Panama Registry is an International State Register. This clearly offers an advantage, but does it also mean more bureaucracy?
In 1917 the Panama Ship Registry was created with the establishment of the procedures for the nationalization of a vessel’s tonnage. The Panama Registry’s Mission is to provide nationality and jurisdiction to ships through legal certainty and high-quality standards.
With over a century promoting seaborne trade, Panama is currently the world’s largest state-owned ship registry with more than 8,516 vessels, summing up 230,6 million of GT, which represents 16% of the world fleet, according to HIS Markit. This responsibility also extends to over 629,000 seafarers worldwide who hold Panama competency licenses, the largest manpower ship registry globally. Feeling pride for its long history and experience our Registry’s aim is to maintain its leading position in the maritime sector. The strength and strategy of the Panamanian Registry are reengineering process, international compliance, technology and innovation and excellent customer service. Being in the forefront means to continuously improve the advantages in order to satisfy the needs of your users and be competitive.
Our vision is to become the Ship Registry that provides maritime and flag services aimed at improving quality and user satisfaction to the ship-owners, ship operators and the crew members of the flag.
In reality, the advantages of the Panama Ship Registry outpace bureaucracy. Panama’s investment in technology in combination with its worldwide network of Consular and Technical offices and the intergovernmental agreements with key players on the world trade ensure smooth and fast transactions covering all aspects of our users’ needs.
• Today, the Panama Ship Registry is signatory of all major international conventions related to the maritime activities:
IMO member Category A since 2002 (reelected 2018)
Paris MOU White List flag for more than 10 years, with a compliance rate of 94.95%.
Tokyo MOU White List Flag, with compliance rate of 97.43%
Certificate/Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Inc. ISO 9001:2015
• 53 Panamanian Consulates around the world, as well as the local authorities through the law firms, offer easy access for the expedite service of all documents required by ship-owners.
• Panama Registry offices provide 24-hour operation to respond to Asia & Europe despite the time difference.
• International Agreements (China Port Dues)
• No minimum tonnage requirements
• No restriction on owner’s nationality
• No restriction on the age and type of the vessel.
• Over 250 flag inspectors located in major ports worldwide
• Dual registrations (Bareboat Charter)
• Special Registration : Scrapping / Delivery voyages
• Flexible Tariffs / Competitive Tariff
• Discount policies (group of owners, new construction, good records/none detention, group of Vessels, Eco Ship.)
• Vessels under construction can obtain provisional registration.
• Advantages for Pleasure Vessels (Yachts, Boats, Sailing Vessels)
• Electronic Ships Documents (Registration & Radio License) Technical Certificates (BLC, WRC, etc.)
• Electronic Filing of Public Deeds be any individual or legal entity of any nationality.
• Easy and fast process of registration.
• Legal Security (Ownership Title & Mortgage Registration) - Panama has been a leader of the ship mortgage registration. The ship mortgages under the Public Registry of Panama provide confidence to banks and to the international finance community . More than 45,000 mortgages duly registered.
How did the Panama Registry respond to the needs of shipowners as shaped by the coronavirus crisis?
Since the beginning of this unprecedented pandemic, Panama’s priority, as a state and a flag, was to follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for the protection and welfare of its users, strategic partners and collaborators.
Panama Registry’s network of 53 Consular Offices and 14 International Segumar Technical Offices around the world offer our clients a 24/7 services following all guidelines and measures imposed. In this way operations were prioritized, achieving perfect synergy between the different entities that make up the Panama Ship Registry.
From the outbreak of the pandemic, the Panama Ship Registry provided immediate responses with its digital services--including a complete reengineering of the processes, incorporation of market analysis, characterization of important areas of the sector and introduction of electronic documents.
All the executives and directors of the Panama Maritime Authority are available 24/7. The General Director of Merchant Marine and the General Director of Seafarers monitored all activities on a daily basis, in close collaboration with our International Regional Offices, maintaining Headquarters fully informed of any problems or situations that might arise. In addition, all Segumar Technical Offices in a seamless remote cooperation with our headquarters ensured continuity in our operations and in the technical services provided worldwide. The Panama Registry’s global presence proved to be an asset which provides our users with solutions and responses on time.
Important actions taken include the instructions to our Approved Recognized Organizations that any audit, inspection or survey expiration date could be extended for a period of 90 days while implementing the remote surveys system. Similarly, Dry Docking was extended for a period of 90 days.
Additionally, the Panama Ship Registry fully implemented the necessary mechanisms to facilitate our users the registration of their Property Titles and ship mortgages in an electronic, remote way, avoiding the necessity of physical presence for their registration.
As a State Flag, we also reaffirmed our commitment to banking institutions to ensure their credit guarantees through the ship mortgage.
Our Consular offices and Embassies worldwide were standing ready to offer all the notary services needed for the registration of property and mortgages of the Panamanian vessels in an agile, efficient, remote and safe way respecting and guaranteeing in each of our actions--all the principles of legal security that have characterized us throughout the years.
A major impact that the Panama Ship Registry had during the development of the pandemic was its handling of the crisis of the crew changes which occurred as a result of the pandemic restrictions and very rapidly got out of scale to become a global humanitarian crisis. Panama was one of the first countries in the world to apply the recommendations established by IMO regarding the prevailing need for safe crew changes and the protocols for performing them safely. Panama’s impact consisted in the facilitation of these crew changes and following IMO’s guidelines made our protocols called “Diagram of the Modalities Of Repatriation/Crew Change” which contemplated seven different cases of repatriation, disembarkation and crew change. In addition to crew changes, requests for vessels requiring medical care for seafarers were processed, allowing their crew to disembark for medical care.
The General Directorate of Seafearers demonstrated its capacity to meet the challenge and the commitment of the Panama Maritime Authority and the Panamanian Government during the pandemic. Information published by the PMA shows that from March 19, 2020 to December 28, 2020, the Panama Registry achieved the total sum of 12,329 movements related to crew change and repatriations of seafarers of various nationalities, including Panamanians, from different types of vessels in open collaboration with the IMO Member States (more than 50 nationalities).
During all these months, the Panama Ship Registry has worked hard and tirelessly for the 318,000 seafarers aboard on more than 8,500 Panama flag vessels through the execution of actions that have been fully verified nationally and internationally. Panama has worked tirelessly so that all seafarers onboard our ships maintain their current employment contracts and guarantee the payment of their wages, the right to repatriation, the right to vacation, the payment of overtime, the right to medical attention and other employment benefits.
Proof of our commitment is that we managed to recover more than 2 Million USD in wages owed by shipowners to seafarers, as a result of 427 labor complaints processed regarding non-payment of wages to seafarers during 2020. Besides that, 539 repatriations of abandoned crew members on Panamanian flag vessels had been carried out in various parts of the world by the end of 2020.
This hard work reaffirms Panama’s commitment to the application of the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, as amended, of which Panama is a signatory, as well as the national regulations, whose main function is to ensure that seafarers enjoy decent living and working conditions that guarantee their well-being.
In 2020, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Panama Ship Registry marked a growth of 6.22% compared to 2019 with 8.516 vessels.
Panama Registry’s positive growth figures
Τhe successful implementation of the above mentioned measures since the outbreak of the pandemic led to positive figures of growth of the Registry throughout the year 2020.
Panama Maritime Authority reached its best results in 2020 since 2011. For the first time, since the end of 2011, the Panamanian Registry has exceeded the 230 million GT mark and has also obtained its best growth which makes us, of course, feel extremely proud. Also, according to HIS Markit Panamanian Flag flies more than 16% of the world maritime fleet in terms of GT.
onsidering that because of the unprecedented global economic slowdown of 2020 there are fewer ships, fewer new constructions, more competitors and more international enforcements, the growth figures constitute a milestone for the Panama Ship Registry.
Talking in numbers between January and December 2020, the Panama Registry, has added 1,036 vessels to its fleet and 29.7 million GT. Of this group, 339 vessels correspond to new buildings contributing 14.3 million GT to the Panama fleet.
The percentage of vessel cancellations and transfers to other registries, during 2020 was reduced by 25.8%, a figure that corresponds to the best results obtained in the last 10 years. We have managed to reduce cancellations due to fleet transfers, a really positive figure which proves the trust that the shipowners maintain in the services provided by our Registry.
During the most crucial months of the pandemic, the Public Registry of Ships processed a total of 5,951 documents for registration such as mortgages, certifications and titles, etc. These Public Deeds are authorized by Public Notaries, using the electronic signature duly registered and endorsed by the Panamanian State, thus reinforcing legal security.
Throughout 2020, the General Directorate of the Public Registry of Ships carried out the preliminary and final registration of 1,742 property titles and 1,425 naval mortgages.
“We will continue to put our best efforts and focus on maintaining the sustained growth of the Registry over the next years, making the pertinent decisions for the benefit of our users’’ is the key message expressed by our Minister of Maritime Affairs, Mr, Noriel Arauz, the General Director of Merchant Marine Authority, Eng. Rafael Cigarruista, and the General Director of Seafarers Department, Capt. Juan Maltez.
How the Panama Registry manages the challenges that shipping is required to face such as:
The Merchant Marine Directorate started to re-inform its delegation which a member of the Permanent Mission of Panama to the IMO, which is one of the pillars for a Flag Administration to be ahead in all the IMO proposal, discussion and implementation of new Regulation, the IMO Permanent Mission maintain a permanent communication with the Control and Compliance Department of the Merchant Marine Directorate and both are under the direct supervision of the General Director, the Third pillar on this organizational structure for IMO related matters, are the International Technical Offices called SEGUMAR, which has been incorporated on specific Shipping Market around the world, where are based the majority of clients of the Registry, the International Technical Offices keep a direct communication with the Shipowners Association, Shipping Chambers, Local Flag Administration among other important Organization on each Region; Coordination Technical discussion panel with decision makers from different Shipping Companies which their fleets are flying the Panamanian Flag.
Additional to the above-mentioned Teamwork, Representative from different Departments and International Technical Offices are constantly participating on Conference and Seminar organized by top Organizers, involving decision makers from different sector of the shipping industry.
As a pro-active Flag Administration, periodical meetings are organized with the representative from the IACS and other approved Classification Societies, where implementations of new regulations are discussed, their feedback and recommendations are taken in consideration and updated instructions from our Flag Administration are shared as well, with all Class Societies representatives.
Along the same lines, the General Director of Merchant Mariner together with members of the Technical Advisory Team, coordinate periodical visit to the most important shipyards around the world, involved in new building projects including the implementation of new eco-friendly and green technologies that contribute to our environment, observing at first-hand the challenges and goals in the implementation of these technologies--a feedback which is crucial to the preparation and/or support of documents to the IMO.
The Merchant Marine Directorate through all these Regional Offices gets a direct feedback from Shipowners and the stakeholders in the shipping industry, in order to determine the impact on the implementation of a New Regulation such as the environmental ones and the development of alternative fuels. All the teams must reach a consensus before a document is presented or supported during the IMO meetings. The recently restructured Business Intelligence Department plays an important and valuable role, providing the Technical Advisory Team around the world, with the latest shipping market analysis and statistics, together with updated information of the fleet under the Panama Registry.
The Panama Registry holds a significant percentage of the Greek-owned fleet. To which profile of shipowners and ships is it addressed?
Panama and Greek maritime ties have always been very strong. Greece is the largest ship-owing country and Panama has the largest ship registry. We collaborate with all Greek shipowners irrespective of the size of their fleet, the type, age and operation of vessels. Panama looks forward to strengthening those ties with further collaboration in the maritime segment, in the areas of education, training, exchange of expertise to mention some examples. As two leading forces in the shipping industry, we should continue fostering and enriching our collaboration in the future.
What are the services provided by the Embassy and General Consulate of Panama in Piraeus, Greece?
The Embassy and General Consulate of Panama in Greece is the only diplomatic representation in Greece with authorization to issue official documents on behalf of the Panamanian Government and the Panama Maritime Authority, encompassing the Merchant Marine and Seafarers’ Directorates. It is one of the biggest Consulates around the world offering high-quality and fast custom maritime services to all our clients and esteemed users.
The Embassy and General Consulate of Panama in Greece is staffed by a team of highly experienced personnel who have thorough knowledge of the Panamanian Maritime legislation and shipping regulations and have an extensive experience of the needs and particularities of the Greek market and the market of the Mediterranean area, in general. Their long-standing expertise in combination with the personal contacts they have sustained for years make them an asset for the success and growth of our Registry. The value of this team was proved during the outbreak of the pandemic when fast and decisive moves and solutions had to be taken. Thanks to them, we were able to rapidly adopt remote working while ensuring all our clients’ needs and services were met and, most important, uninterruptedly.
I cannot stress enough that due to the experience of our personnel and our excellent teamwork the Embassy and the General Consulate of Panama in Greece never stopped being the One-Stop-Office for all Panama Flag Users and continued providing uninterrupted and personalized service to all our clients. As a result, we as Consulate – and the Panama Registry overall – marked growth numbers despite the pandemic.
I believe this is an extraordinary achievement and it would never have been possible without the combination of the two factors: excellent back up from the Government and the Panama Maritime Authority and a team of highly qualified personnel at our local Consulate.
Our Consulate is represented by 4 departments:
Shipping and Corporate Department: providing consultation and processing of vessels’ provisional and permanent registration including Special registration for delivery voyage, mortgage registration and discharge and all services related to Panamanian company documents. Also, notary and consular services.
Crew Department has a 24/7 online application system. Is backed up with experienced personnel with knowledge of MLC, ILO, STCW offers fast and efficient customer service and evaluation of proper documentation, based on current implemented Conventions and Maritime regulations (MLC, ILO, STCW). They issue same day interim/transitory certificates, if all documents are in order. They work in close collaboration with the Regional Documentation Office and technical officers for consultation and they are in cooperation with training centers within the region.
Regional Segumar-Technical Office: This key Segumar Office was established in Piraeus, Greece in 2010 and is one of the 14 strategic International SEGUMAR Offices network with deep understanding of the needs and demands of the Greek market. It is fully authorized by the Panama Maritime Authority to evaluate, take decisions on Panamanian Flag Vessels’ technical matters and issue all Flag vessel technical certificates. It is manned by experienced technical staff with vast knowledge of all IMO International Regulations and Panama Maritime National and International regulations available to provide onboard service and consultation, if necessary, in Greek ports or within the region. Segumar – Piraeus has direct communication and cooperation with all authorized Class Societies/Recognized Organizations as well as direct and immediate technical support to all Panamanian Flag vessels trading within Europe and to Owners/Managers and Class/RO’s based in Europe, especially in Greece and Cyprus. It also serves as the link to all the Departments of the Panama Maritime Ministry Head Office and is a Channel of communication with local Port Authorities in Greece.
Regional Seafarers Documentation Office: is manned by highly experienced technical Officers providing consultancy services in Greece and worldwide. They approve and issue permanent Seaman’s and title endorsements for crew on Panama flag vessels.
Panama Maritime Authority congradulates Greece on the 200th anniversary of Greek Revolution