MOST major flags have recorded ongoing improvements in the International Chamber of Shipping’s annual performance report but the usual outliers continue to disappoint.

The ICS says the 2023/2024 Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table “indicates continuing positive performance by the vast majority of flag states which are responsible for the safety and environmental performance of the world’s merchant ships”.

The table is intended to encourage shipowners to maintain a dialogue with their flag states, and help facilitate any necessary improvements in the interests of safety, environmental protection and decent working conditions.

“As in previous years, a number of flag states have shown positive indicators for all of the criteria used in the table. These include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore and the United Kingdom, the ICS said.

However, a number of flag states (including Togo, Algeria, and Comoros) continue to record large amounts of negative performance indicators, “highlighting the need to encourage shipowners and operators to examine whether a flag state has sufficient substance before using it.

“Positively, a number of smaller flag states, including Costa Rica, Egypt, Mexico, and Thailand, show an increase in the number of positive performance indicators compared to the previous Flag State Performance Table.”

The ICS said overall improvements were seen this year in flag state’s attendance at International Maritime Organization meetings, as well as in the use of well-performing Recognized Organizations authorised by flag state administrations – as shown by Port State Control inspection data – to carry out the survey and certification of ships to ensure compliance with IMO and International Labour Organization regulations governing safety, environmental performance and labour standards.

Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, said was a positive development that this year’s table shows that smaller flag states have shown improvements in performance: “The table also shows that, unfortunately, a number of Flag States continue to record large amounts of negative performance indicators which flag states must address, for the benefit of the entire shipping industry.

“I encourage shipowners and operators to use this vital tool to examine whether a flag state has sufficient substance before using it, and to put pressure on their flag Administrations to affect any improvements that might be necessary, especially in relation to safety of life at sea, the protection of the marine environment, and the provision of decent working and living conditions for seafarers,” Mr Platten said.

“At a time of heightened uncertainty this offers valuable resource for the industry so that the necessary steps to tackle areas of underperformance can be addressed.”