“Full steam ahead” remains the mantra at the Liberian Registry after consolidating its position as the world’s second largest flag.

Its fleet recently surpassed 200 million gross tons representing nearly 5,000 vessels. Further expansion is expected in the months and years ahead.

Today, data from Clarkson’s show that Liberia is now the industry’s largest tanker flag with 57.4 million gross tons. It also holds the top position in the containership segment with a market share of roughly 18%.

The registry is actively adopting to the changing needs of the industry and trends such as surging demand for containerships and the shift towards greener fuels, which is particularly profound in both the liner and tanker sectors. This is supported by an extensive team of in-house experts who guide owners and operators as they navigate changing markets, new systems and increasingly complex regulations.

While its growth, which amounted to 9.6% through the end of October 2021, has been driven by deliveries in numerous sectors, the flag anticipates particularly significant gains in the mega-containership segment, and others that are seeing a rise in dual-fuel tonnage.

But the drivers of Liberia’s growth aren’t limited to market tailwinds. A suite of services tailored to the needs of clients that demand smooth and efficient business processes, more than ever, are turning to the flag. In fact, it’s been at the forefront of industry transitions its inception in the late 1940’s and was a founding member of the International Maritime Organization a decade later.

Photo: Alfonso Castillero

Alfonso Castillero, chief operating officer of the Dulles, Virginia-based Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) says: “I am very pleased to see the Liberian Registry move into the leading position to be the preferred flag state for tanker owners and operators around the world. This is no accident and will continue in 2022.”

Competition amongst flag states is notoriously fierce. So, what’s its secret? “Our commitment to safety, innovation, and bringing cost-savings to the Liberian flagged fleet while maintaining our superior level of service are huge contributing factors,” Castillero explains.

Michalis Pantazopoulos, head of the registry’s Greek office, adds: “We have been able to appeal to tanker owners specifically, not just due to our cost-advantages, but thanks in large part to our continuously improving safety rankings; our detention prevention programme; and our global network of 24/7 localised support. This has made Liberia the flag State of choice for the majority of Greek shipowners, and the largest and fastest growing flag in Greece.”

Carbon Capture & Storage: The new frontier

LISCR has also emerged as an agent of change in the arena of digital and technological innovation. Shipping, long considered a follower rather than a leader, is quickly gaining traction in the real of decarbonization, a top concern for shipowners, charterers, and other stakeholders across the entire supply chain.

One area of growing interest is carbon capture and carbon storage, where carbon from fuels is isolated, stored and then transported. In late September, LISCR and DNV celebrated a major milestone when they awarded an Approval in Principle (AiP) to Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co (KSOE) for the design of a new 40,000 m3 liquified CO2 carrier utilising type-C cargo tanks. While it’s still early days, the flag expects to see more and more vessels transport this “new” commodity in the years ahead.

Thomas Klenum, the senior VP of maritime operations who led the registry’s review and approval process, reinforced the importance of this effort, saying: “This project will be very important for the design and capabilities of the CO2 fleet of the future. We are pleased to be at the forefront of this development.”

Leveraging algorithms to decrease detentions

LISCR is consistently at the top of “white-lists” compiled by the IMO and major Port State Control (PSC) authorities. PSC, like everywhere else in shipping, is seeing rapid, dramatic change in areas like digitalisation, where LISCR is on the front line.

In 2020, the registry debuted its Dynamic Detention Prevention Programme (DPP), an automated PSC risk assessment system that focuses on preparedness prior to entering a port. The DPP algorithms recognise that the evaluation criteria for inbound vessels varies across geographies. As such, the platform aggregates flag, port state and classification society data. It provides vessel owners with a geographically specific PSC boarding analysis of its entire fleet in real-time, which has led to a significant decrease in detentions. This service is offered to Liberian-flagged ships free of charge.

Liberia’s pole position in the various rankings is no accident. As Castillero puts it: We understand shipowners need to focus on getting their cargo where it needs to go and need a flag state that will help them with everything else.” In a business where the pace of change is accelerating by the day, the Liberian Registry is well placed to remain in the lead.