Bahrain plans to open ship register.
BAHRAIN plans to open its ship register to international owners as part of a wider strategy to establish itself as a centre of maritime trade and expertise.
Bahrain already has a ship register but it is run on traditional terms that require vessels to be owned by Bahraini nationals or companies.
By making it an open register, Bahrain hopes to attract more tonnage to the flag.
?Arabs who want to invest in shipping now have their ships registered elsewhere because there is no open register in the Gulf that is backed by modern laws and a competent administration,? said Fazlur Chowdhury, an advisor to the Bahraini authorities.
?It is hoped Bahrain will provide them with the necessary opportunity.?
Capt Chowdhury, a veteran of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and former maritime administrator in Gibraltar, is co-ordinating a group of experts drafting new legislation that will underpin the Bahraini plan.
The aim is to establish Bahrain as a quality register and ensure compliance with international norms and conventions.
A similar strategy was put in place in Gibraltar a decade ago to overhaul its registry and turn it into a reputable and attractive administration.
Bahrain"s transformation will learn from that experience. Like Gibraltar, for example, it will delegate survey work to top class societies while retaining in-house control over key inspections such as International Safety Management code and International Ship and Port Facility Safety code.
This is still work in progress and the launch of the open register is some way off. But the aims are clear and centre largely on encouraging local know-how and capabilities.
?Bahrain has a good number of professionally qualified people to run an efficient administration,? Capt Chowdhury said.
?We will have the knowledge and expertise to exercise necessary control and supervision.?
Attention is also being focused outside the administration and initiatives are under way to prepare the ground for the flag"s transformation.
Sheikh Daij Bin Salman Al Khalifa, chairman of Bahrain"s General Organisation of Sea Ports, will open a seminar in Bahrain tomorrow to introduce local lawyers to the plans for the flag and the maritime sector.
The hope is that an open register will not only attract new tonnage to Bahrain"s books but also add depth to the state"s existing maritime offering and expand its portfolio of services to the industry.
Officials believe the local legal community will play an essential role in promoting and sustaining the envisaged growth.
Bahrain gained recent prominence in the Middle East Gulf region following last month"s official opening of the new Khalifa Bin Salman port, also known as Bahrain Gateway.
The new port adds to existing facilities such as the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard, the largest ship repair complex in the Arab world.