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Cayman Islands: Offshore Business Sectors

Ship Management and Maritime Operations

This page was last updated on 28 June 2019.

See Offshore Business Review – Shipping for a more general treatment of offshore shipping registries.

The Cayman Islands operates registers of shipping and civil aircraft. George Town is a port of British registry. Over the years, Cayman has been included in most English merchant shipping acts, with the result that it is a Category 1 registry, entitled to register all classes of vessel.

The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry administers Caymanian registration and has a full professional staff for this purpose. The Merchant Shipping Law (2008 Revision) governs Caymanian registration and lays down fee levels according to tonnage.
Aircraft are registered under the (English) Aircraft Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 1989 (updated in 2007). The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands maintains the register. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has discretion over Cayman registration, and in practical terms limits it to private aircraft.

The Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2007 consolidated the provisions of the 2001 Order and its four amendment orders. A number of new provisions have been introduced, including those relating to regulation of corporate operations, and provisions have been introduced to enable Governors to give instructions concerning the equipment, performance and manner of operation of aircraft. Some changes have also been made to the airworthiness requirements; in relation to permits to fly; and in respect of the introduction of requirements for safety management systems.

By July 2013, the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry had more than 1,900 vessels on its books, with 822 of them being superyachts.

The Merchant Shipping Law of 1997 together with its amendments was commenced in July 1999 to revise, streamline and update the previous law. The law was based mainly on the United Kingdom  Merchant Shipping Act, 1995, the UK Aviation and Maritime Security Act, 1990 and the UK Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act, 1997. It also embraced up-to-date convention requirements together with a number of innovations that address some of the specific needs of the Cayman Islands.

These included wider ownership, extended demise charter, enhanced mortgagee protection, registration and mortgage of ships under construction, mandatory minimum insurance, anti-piracy measures and clearer exercise of due diligence in the registration, deletion and representation of ships. The provisions of a number of ILO Conventions were also incorporated, covering the engagement and welfare of seafarers, recruitment and placement of seafarers, regulation on hours of work and rest, and living and working conditions of seafarers.

A similar revision exercise has taken place with the Merchant Shipping (Marine Pollution) Law. This Law places all applicable aspects of marine pollution into one comprehensive and up-to-date body of law. It incorporates relevant aspects of UNCLOS, MARPOL, the Intervention Convention, OPRC 90, London Convention on dumping of wastes (including its Protocol of 1996) and Hazardous and Noxious Substances Convention. Some applications that have a broader reach than strict pollution issues have been included in the Merchant Shipping Law. Examples include the Civil Liability Convention and the Fund Convention.

The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry has representation in nine locations globally: George Town, Grand Cayman Head Office; European Regional Office, Southampton, UK; London; Ft. Lauderdale; Monaco, Athens, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Also in May 2009, it was announced that the CISR had attained "White List" status under the Tokyo memorandum of understanding on port state control (MOU). This particular MOU has been signed by 18 countries including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, Canada, Chile, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

Later that month, the top management of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands signed an agreement with Registro Italiano Navale (RINA), the Italian marine interest classification society.

The Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands (MACI) received news in June 2009 that the CISR had maintained its prestigious ‘white list’ status on the Paris memorandum of understanding (MoU) on port state control.



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