Liberia: Offshore Business Sectors
Liberia's maritime program opened its doors to the world's shipping community in 1948, and within 3 months the 29,000dwt tanker World Peace, a large vessel by the standards of her day, had become the first ocean going merchant vessel to fly Liberia's star and stripes.
Now the Liberian registry is the second largest registry in the world: in 2004 came news that the total number of ships in the registry had passed 2,000. By 2008, the Liberian-flagged fleet consisted of 2,600 vessels of more than 80 million gross tons. Current figures state that over 3,900 vessels of more than 131 million gross tons are registered under the Liberian flag. Liberia's fleet is made up of nearly every type of ship, with large concentrations of oil, chemical and gas tankers, followed closely by both dry bulk carriers and containerships. The Registry clearly has experience with special purpose vessels and large passenger ships.
Owners come from more than 50 countries, with Germany, Greece, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, the UK and the USA figuring prominently.
The success of the Liberian registry is due to the high standards set and maintained over a long period of time. The registry has a reputation for quality, efficiency, safety, and service. Liberia also offers one of the most convenient, efficient, and tax effective offshore corporate registries in the world. The registry is operated by LISCR, LLC (The Liberian International Shipping and Corporate Registry) , which has offices in the USA (Vienna, Virginia, and New York), Piraeus, Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, Monrovia, Zurich and Tokyo. LISCR has made significant investments in new computer and communication technologies in order to meet the demands of today's shipping industry.
A recently-opened office in Hamburg testifies to Germany's maritime importance. It has been estimated that sixty per cent of all international ship finance originates in the German market. The Liberian Registry has over 54 clients, 400 ships and 10 million gross tons controlled from Germany alone.
Liberia has active governmental representatives at the IMO who are permanently stationed in London to provide full time flag state voice on the issues effecting safety and environmental protection on the IMO agenda. Professional staff from LISCR Vienna, New York and London offices participate to augment the official delegation in the numerous working groups, sub-committees and committee meetings.
Liberia is signatory to the major international maritime conventions and works with the class societies to ensure full and fair compliance and enforcement of the international rules and codes. As a consequence of the close cooperation between the Registry's technical staff and the class societies, Liberia has implemented consistent interpretations of international rules and regulations to facilitate clear and unambiguous technical information for use in new vessel construction by major shipyards around the world and to ensure continued compliance and safe operation of existing vessels under the Liberian flag.
Such examples of this include Marpol Annex VI and the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code. Liberia was the first major registry to ratify the air pollution prevention code, known as Marpol Annex VI. With respect to the ISPS Code, Liberia worked closely with shipping and security experts in late 2001 to develop an effective model security plan. This plan was later delivered to the IMO for consideration and adoption. Likewise, Liberia also pioneered the world's first seafarers' biometric identification document. Liberia's design was ultimately adopted in principle at the International Labour Organization.
In April, 2006, the Liberian Registry was admitted to the United States Coast Guard's Qualship 21 quality incentive program, which covers only about 10% of foreign-flagged ships calling at US ports.
A Liberian Registry statement says: "This recognition of Liberia's commitment to quality shipping comes at a time of growth and expansion for the registry, which has grown by more than 500 vessels under the management of the US-based Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR)."
The US Coast Guard said: "Liberia's commitment to quality shipping was evident as Liberian-flag vessels calling on US ports compiled an excellent 2005 port state control record. As a result, the three-year detention percentage for Liberian vessels fell to 0.94 per cent, which is below the cut-off for inclusion in the Qualship 2 programme".
Scott Bergeron, Chief Operating Officer of LISCR, said: "We are delighted to have been included in the Qualship programme, because this provides further confirmation of Liberia's pre-eminent position in terms of safety and quality-driven shipping. Further recognition of this commitment to safe and secure shipping, coupled with the growth in the size of the fleet, is good for the ever-increasing numbers of shipowners who operate their ships under the Liberian flag, and for international shipping generally. Any register can grow in size, but to do so while maintaining the highest standards of safety is more difficult, and must be the aim of any responsible ship registry."
Benefits of the Qualship 21 program include reductions in port state control examinations and streamlined inspection procedures.