For a long time there was a lot of talk about the UK and its then-non ratification of the Convention however at the start of August the UK, a popular flag flown by 424 of the world’s superyachts, ratified the Convention.
The USA, however, is yet to ratify the Convention, and questions remain as to whether it will do so at all. The flag of the USA, though not the most popular across the fleet, still has a significant presence, with 603 yachts flying the flag – 12 per cent of the world fleet currently on the water. (All data from SuperyachtIntelligence.com).
However, it is not merely a case of the USA not ratifying the convention meaning US-flagged yachts don’t have to comply. If a US-flagged yacht is in the waters or port of a nation that has ratified the Convention, that yacht will still be subject to Port State Control inspections as outlined under the MLC.
In light of this, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has encouraged shipowners and operators to comply with the Convention and has declared it intends to issue a Statement of Voluntary Compliance to vessels demonstrating MLC compliance and who so re quest it.
But is voluntary compliance really enough? And what sort of statement is the USA making by choosing not to ratify a Convention that is pushing crew rights?
It seems these are the questions being talked about across the pond. The Crew Report has been speaking with the US Superyacht Association (USSA) for the past six months about their status regarding their possible ratification of the Convention, but to no avail and with USSA members stating no stance had yet been taken towards ratification. However, just recently there has been some movement.
"While the US Seafarer already has most if not all of the benefits of the MLC through their companies or unions, it is important that US ships not encounter any delays or unnecessary scrutiny when traveling to countries that have ratified the MLC."
Amy Beavers, Vice President of Regulatory Compliance and Managing Director of Maritime Professional Training (MPT) and member of the USSA, told The Crew Report: “It is my understanding from the previous MERPAC [Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee] meeting that ratification of the MLC is being considered by the United States. While the US Seafarer already has most if not all of the benefits of the MLC through their companies or unions, it is important that US ships not encounter any delays or unnecessary scrutiny when traveling to countries that have ratified the MLC.
“A concern of many in the industry, however, is whether all seafarers will include domestic vessels, as these companies cannot bear the burden that implementing this convention would require. Many are small, seasonal operators of excursion vessels, dive boats, sightseeing vessels and so forth, and employ part-time people in many cases. The seafarers are protected by the employment laws in the United States and in their individual states which protect them already. Therefore it is the general consensus that these companies and domestic operators be considered significantly equivalent to the Convention or exempted altogether.”
So, finally, the United States is making a move towards the realm of ratification. The reasons Beavers suggests for holding back on the ratification are easily understood, however the mere fact that the Convention is being discussed by this popular flag state is promising and The Crew Report looks forward to providing its readers with further updates.