It's smooth sailing for Jamaica under a little-known 20-year-old United States Coast Guard programme called Quality Shipping for the 21st Century (QUALSHIP 21), which identifies high-quality ships from different countries and provides incentives, such as certificates, to encourage quality operations.
At the rate Jamaica is going the country stands to earn good money from other nations hoping to get high marks from the US programme by sailing under Jamaican registry.
With a few weeks leading up to the new season of the QUALSHIP 21 programme, there are also high hopes that Jamaica will achieve qualification for producing effective merchant vessels and commercial yachts.
For the current season, Jamaica is among 25 countries listed as flag administrations — where there are entities that regulate shipping — which met all the requirements for QUALSHIP 21, the US Coast Guard announced. Some of the other countries include The Bahamas, Italy, Singapore, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, and France.
“ We worked very hard and we are pleased that our efforts have been rewarded. We are very optimistic that Jamaica will continue to be designated a QUALSHIP 21 registry,” said Steven Spence, director of safety, environment, and certification at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ). “Our registered vessels have an excellent reputation and excellent safety record.”
Spence told the Jamaica Observer that earning a certificate is important, but “the biggest incentive is that the vessels are deemed to be safe. and it feels good knowing you're operating with a quality administration, seaworthy vessels, and competent crew members”.
In order for a vessel to be eligible for QUALSHIP 21, some of the requirements are: It must be a non-US-flagged vessel, must be registered to a QUALSHIP 21 qualified flag administration, and it should not have had substandard vessel detentions in the US within the last 36 months.
“We have had no recent detentions by the US Coast Guard during their port state control inspections,” Spence said, noting that Jamaica had been enrolled in the programme for about five years and there are almost 100 vessels that are inspected .
According to Spence, vessels are inspected at the US seaports by US coast guards under port state control division for safety and to ensure that the crew members are competent.
“If the vessels are found to be of a high standard, they will be designated as QUALSHIP 21 administration, but if they are substandard – not safe or seaworthy – then they would not get that designation,” Spence told the Observer.
He added that a vessel would be substandard if it has certain issues, such as taking in water and breaches regarding the handling of garbage and oil.
Hoping to increase the standards of all vessels, Spence said: “It's not just about those that trade with the US so we can have more ship owners coming to the Jamaica ship registry to register their vessels as they do have choices. We want to be seen as one of those reputable administrations.