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British-Flagged Vessels the Topic of Major Conference

17 July 2017, 8:00 AM
Politics & Government
radiocayman
Maritime security and Brexit's impact on the operation of ships flying under the Union Jack were among topics on the table as shipping authorities and regulators from across the Commonwealth met on Grand Cayman last week (July 10-13, 2017), for the annual Red Ensign Group (REG) Conference.
The REG meeting allowed member countries the opportunity for detailed discussions on a variety of shared interests. It enabled them to share best-practice and collaborate on ways to optimise performance of the British register in the international arena -- both in terms of commercial success and setting exemplary standards in meeting international maritime obligations. 
At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, 11 July 2017, at the Marriott Hotel, Acting Governor Franz Manderson told attendees that it is "an honour to be part of the Red Ensign Group and the British fleet, which is synonymous with quality shipping, because of its high technical, social and administrative standards. The REG Strategy's ethos states this well: "Strength and quality through collaboration."
Mr. Manderson added that the organisers had chosen the perfect location for the conference. "Ours is a history steeped in seafaring tradition. Our forefathers were shipbuilders, seamen, fishermen and merchant marines. My own father and grandfather were included in those men who left our shores to ply the seas.
Our ties to the sea are inextricable and it is this passion that drives us to develop this industry in honour of those who went before us and for the generations to come.
We continue to maintain an enviable position in shipping; indeed at the crossroads to the Americas."
Local authorities on the podium this week were Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands' (MACI) Chairman Mr. Philip Barnes; CEO of MACI Mr. Joel Walton; joined by Chairman of the United Kingdom's (UK's) REG Delegation, Sir Alan Massey, KCB, CBE (who is also CEO of the UK Maritime and Coast Guard Agency); and the Acting Chief Officer Ms. Kathryn Dinspel-Powell - on behalf of Cayman Islands' Minister for Financial Services and Home Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers.
"The quality of our commercial fleet is unquestionable, with a significant number of Category One vessels, and we continue to feature prominently in all major Memorandum of Understandings involving top flags," said Mr. Walton.
 "Speaking of Cayman's progress in this industry, he commented that December 2016 marked a new phase in MACI's development, as the service focus expanded "from technical services to a broader commercial service perspective", which includes a new emphasis on luxury-yachting clients.
Other special attendees this week were the Director of the UK's Maritime Safety and Standards & PRIMO Katy Ware; Director of the UK Ship Register Doug Barrow; and a team of other specialist associates in areas ranging from business improvement and auditing, to maritime registration and monitoring.
The FCO's Deputy Head of Maritime Policy Unit Stephen Taylor, was also present this week, along with the UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch's Deputy Chief Inspector Capt. Andrew Moll and Business Support Manager Helen Johnston. Other special attendees/presenters include the UK Hydrographic Development Advisor David Parker, and Legal Consultant Simon Whitbourn.
In addition to the Caribbean British Overseas Territories, REG member countries range as far afield as St. Helena and Gibraltar.
In his address, Sir Alan Massey thanked the Government of the Cayman Islands for hosting this year's conference, and for "the very warm welcome received". He shared, "Given its rich maritime heritage, and national motto of "He Hath Founded It Upon The Seas", the Cayman Islands is truly an apt location."  
He also took the opportunity to share a message from the UK Minister for Shipping -- the Rt. Hon. John Hayes, CBE MP -- which included:  "I offer my gratitude to the Government of the Cayman Islands for their generosity in hosting this year's REG Conference and I fully appreciate the importance of these yearly Conferences... this is a vital fixture in our maritime calendar -- a cherished opportunity for our policy makers and practitioners to share their experience and knowledge, and to identify the challenges and priorities for the future...   
It is on this reputation and the collective strength of the Red Ensign Group which remain our biggest asset.  It is therefore vital that we use this to good effect by working collaboratively to help promote the growth of the British Shipping Registers."
Tuesday's opening was preceded by a full day of bi-lateral meetings on Monday, as well as a formal reception hosted by MACI.
The conference's plenary sessions included topics such as the performance of the REG, international relations, sea-bed mapping, possibilities for partnerships and collaboration; as well as ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention.
 
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