Do pleasure yacht captains make the most of the support that flag states can offer? At the Isle of Man Superyacht Forum, held in London last month, members of the hosting registry, as well as delegates from both sides of the argument, conceded that the relationship between private yachts and flag states is something that needs to be cultivated in the coming years.
“The number of pleasure yachts is increasing for a number of reasons,” started Angus Lamming, principal surveyor at the Isle of Man Ship Registry. “Firstly, owners continue to value the flexibility of private vessels. Another reason is that commercial yacht owners are becoming fed up with increasing regulation, as well as unwanted attention from Port State Control.”
However, as Lamming goes on to explain, pleasure vessels, regardless of whether or not they were once commercial, seem to be content to continue with very little by the way of third party oversight – oversight that is commercially implemented for the safety of owners, guests and crew. Oversight can include everything from security, advising on piracy and terrorism, to ensuring crew are contractually protected.
“My feeling is that pleasure yachts aren not always aware of the services flag can provide and sometimes they see flagging as a box to be ticked,” continued Lamming. “Most yacht crew are not a member of a union, such as Nautilus International for example. So, most crew feel like they have nobody to ask, what they may not know is that they can ask flag.”
A similar feeling was espoused by Joel Walton, CEO of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands. In an exclusive interview, to be published in issue 180 of The Superyacht Report, Walton explained how the role of the Red Ensign Group has evolved in parallel with the growth and professionalisation of the superyacht industry. Walton explained that, moving forward, the role of flag states will increasingly (beyond their traditional remit) become that of advisory bodies.
Private vessels need not be burdened by the red tape and regulation that made becoming commercially registered seem unappealing in the first place. However, nor need they dispense of the benefits of flag entirely. Like the Isle of Man Shipping Registry’s new Pleasure Yacht Plus Service, flag can still be used to advise captains and crew, support regulatory matters, aid in the retention of a vessels value and ensure that the superyacht is operated safely and for the betterment of all on board.