Debasis Mazumdar, the CEO of the SKANReg (St Kitts & Nevis International Ship Registry), has an ambitious goal to double the size of the fleet flying the Caribbean island’s flag within five years.
The register has been in operation for 10 years now, and has around 700 ships on its books. The mix of ships is very varied, says Mazumdar, and does include some oil rigs.
“In these difficult times, ship owners want us to standby them as a flag when they need us,” Mazumdar says. “Time is money and they want a quick and efficient service with minimum fees,” he adds.
After four years as head of the UK Ship Register, Debasis Mazumdar joined SKANReg last August to drive further progress by the ambitious Caribbean flag state – operational only since 2005 – as CEO and International Registrar of Shipping & Seamen.
In just six months, Mr Mazumdar has travelled widely while also implementing a change of headquarters, a string of internal and external appointments, a 24/7 customer service concept and a plan to add new income streams with a wider range of services.
His overall objective is to double the size of the registry in five years and move it to Paris and Tokyo MoU White List status for flags with a consistently low Port State Control (PSC) detention record. SKANReg is currently on the mid-ranking Grey Lists of both the Paris MoU – covering Europe and the North Atlantic – and the Tokyo MoU for Asia and the Pacific, where it is now heading towards the top due to increased inspections and a resulting reduction in ship detentions.
“My past experience confirms that a strong PSC record is a key selling point for any flag that is serious about attracting quality owners,” says Mr Mazumdar, a former chief engineer who also spent ten years as a senior surveyor with the American Bureau of Shipping.
“I accept that it will take some time to improve our rankings because they are based on a three-year rolling average,” he adds. “As such, our main focus will be to advise owners on how to prepare for their PSC inspections and pass without deficiencies. At the same time, we will not hesitate to de-list substandard tonnage.”
The current SKANReg fleet of 695 vessels totalling 2.84 million gt ranges from general cargo ships, bulk carriers, gas carriers and tankers to accommodation barges, jack-up rigs, yachts and fishing vessels. In January the registry increased its foothold in a new area of business by signing its largest car carrier, the 42,447gt, 177-metre long IDM SYMEX.
“The fleet’s future growth and safety record hinges on maximising customer service,” says Mr Mazumdar, who has established a day or night on-call facility for owners and maritime registrars.
After a highly promising two-week trip exploring new business and promotional opportunities in the Indian sub-continent, he has just appointed Seacom Projects Ltd as an additional SKANReg maritime registrar in India – enabling same-day ship registration to be carried out locally in Mumbai, Kolkata and neighbouring countries. Seacom operates a ship management company in Mumbai and also owns marine engineering, general engineering and skills colleges. The new appointment adds to the existing maritime registrar in Cochin.
With growth as a key priority, Mr Mazumdar is in the process of nominating further new maritime registrars around the world to market the flag in regions where SKANReg currently has no representation. Alongside this he has visited existing maritime registrars in Russia, Dubai, Greece, India and The Netherlands as well as St Kitts & Nevis.
He has also added to the number of Flag State Inspectors who represent SKANReg worldwide – taking the total to 216 – with appointments based on the extensive PSC and Class experience necessary to maintain the fleet’s rising safety standards.
In other developments, the registry has submitted an application to the IMO for STCW White List status on the issuing of documentation and dispensations, led by seafarer registration manager Tracey Hughes. Meanwhile business has increased on seafarer certification and the issuing of seamen’s books – the mandatory Seafarer’s Identity Document providing proof of seagoing experience via the so-called Continuous Discharge Certificate.
Further potential business development areas being pursued by Mr Mazumdar include approvals for lifeboat, liferaft and firefighting equipment service stations and an auditing/certification service for maritime training institutes. He is also overseeing the registry’s increased emphasis on IMO participation, together with important updates to the St Kitts & Nevis shipping policy, starting with the current implementation of a new High Seas Fishing Act.
Staffing has been increased to support the growth initiatives. Two new ship registration executives have been recruited, each with language skills that will support the registry’s worldwide customer base. Vanda Chrapovickaja, who speaks Russian, is a postgraduate engineer with a master’s degree in shipping & commercial law from Southampton University, while Gina Balta is a Greek-speaking postgraduate of Greenwich Maritime University with a doctorate in maritime history. They join a department where Liam Ryan has been promoted to senior ship registration executive. In addition, Institute of Legal Executives diploma holder Lauren Leland has been appointed as the CEO’s PA.
SKANReg has also moved into a modern office suite in a Greater London shipping house featuring meeting rooms with video conferencing facilities. A total state-of-the-art upgrade of the IT infrastructure is due for completion by June – in line with the registry’s ongoing progression from ISO:9001 (2008) certification to ISO:9001 (2015) standard. In addition, the registry’s website is being given a user-friendly facelift that will be ready in April.
As Mr Mazumdar concludes: “The St Kitts & Nevis government has given us the green light to take SKANReg to a different dimension. We have set our sights high but the early signs are equally encouraging – there is clearly a place for the ‘do it right, do it today’ personal approach that we are offering to the market.”