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A bespoke registration service from The BMA

Bahamas Maritime Authority - Fleet Diversity

Ensuring quality of service is in our DNA

Excellence and quality are the cornerstones of the work of The Bahamas Maritime Authority and its registration teams. Throughout the entire registration process, the teams work diligently to provide support and guidance to our clients.

As the first point of contact with the Authority, it is vital that our registrars understand not only how to process the registration procedure but also how they can make our clients’ lives easier.

A straight forward and efficient process

A bespoke ship registration service
A bespoke ship registration service – The Bahamas Maritime Authority

Registrar and Deputy Director Carolyn Moree, has worked at The BMA for over 16 years, and she is an advocate of doing things the right way. “It is always our intention to make the registration process as straight forward and efficient as possible while ensuring that every stage is completed thoroughly and accurately. To this end we have created a user-friendly registration procedure,” she said.

“We are currently enhancing our processes by developing and embracing new technology that will make it possible for all standard information to be pre-populated on all our stand-alone forms, reducing the amount of repetitious form-filling that has been needed to date. There are a number of official forms that must be completed before a ship can be registered and documents issued, and the new system should help to alleviate the work involved. Although there will still be a requirement to complete certain sections individually, it will result in significant time savings for our clients,” she added.

The BMA is able to register newbuilds, ships moving from another registry and also ships under construction, provided that the keel has been laid. Although proof of class documentation is required for newbuilds and existing ships (and at a later date for ships being built), The BMA accepts International Tonnage Certificates issued under the 1969 Tonnage Convention, by or on behalf of other registries or by approved classification societies.

Bespoke service

From the first interaction with a new client, The BMA registration team takes on a supportive role. Whether confirming with the client the date for registration or ensuring that the chosen name for the vessel is available for use, clients have a personal contact who is able to handle every aspect of the transaction. This level of service is available to all representatives of the client including ship managers, lawyers or in-house legal teams.

This personal attention to clients means that The BMA is able to offer a bespoke service, supporting clients through the complete registration process. In fact there is an element of educating first time clients so that they are better equipped to deal with future ship registrations. Furthermore, a number of the team members have studied law, with three of them having been called to the Bar of England and Wales and The Bahamas.  This gives the team a definite edge and every single member is qualified to assist with the various queries during the registration transactions.

As a result of the close relationship that builds between registrar and client, it is possible to complete transactions to an extremely tight deadline, The BMA has been known to register a ship, including the issuing of all certifications, within the space of an hour when presented with the completed documentation.

This direct access to senior personnel extends beyond the registration team to the entire organisation so that clients can be sure that the answer to virtually every query can be found through a single telephone call.

Supportive team

Having started as the most junior member of The BMA registry department, Carolyn is determined to give her team the same chances to progress as she herself has received. “I have worked hard to create a learning environment within the registration team where members are encouraged to build their skills, learning from the transactions which we all undertake and, indeed, from each other. This has resulted in a truly cohesive team that can step in and pick up each other’s work where someone is unexpectedly absent so that no client is left waiting for a response. One of the most satisfying aspects of heading up a department is in seeing the team members grow in terms of expertise and confidence.”

Registrars available around the clock

With fully-manned offices in Asia, North America and two different European time zones, The BMA always has a registrar available no matter where or when the registration is required. This is particularly useful for ships registering early in the day in Asia. The teams in Japan and Hong Kong and all BMA offices are readily available to handle all the necessary documentation to ensure that the registration is handled in a timely and efficient manner. Although a registration can happen in any regional office, BMA London currently remains a central hub for mortgage registrations, with most mortgage transactions undertaken through the London office.

Wherever the mortgage transaction is taking place, the notarised instrument has to be deposited and recorded in local time. Over many years the registration team has built up long-standing relationships with many of the notaries, financiers and the financiers’ lawyers operating in the shipping sector so that the Authority is frequently entrusted with holding the mortgage instrument in escrow. The trust that has built up between The BMA, notaries, financiers and the financiers’ lawyers means that what has the potential to be a complicated issue involving many different parties can often be simplified.

An expanded role 

In addition to the core business of registering ships, The BMA’s registration department also handles the issuance of mandatory certificates pertaining to Oil Pollution, Bunker Oil and Wreck Removal insurance. For the issuance of the certificates, it may be necessary to review documentation submitted by insurers that are not members of the International Group of P&I Clubs, and the guidance criteria provided by the IMO Guidelines For Accepting Insurance Companies, Financial Security Providers and The International Group of Protection and Indemnity Associations (P&I Clubs) is followed. The registration department also ensures it keeps up to date with all the IMO standards that relate to insurance.

A range of other activities undertaken by the registration department include assigning MMSI numbers, call signs and issuing radio licenses on behalf of The Bahamas’ Telecommunications Authority, Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority (URCA), renaming of ships, registering the change of owner and/or manager of a ship, handling bareboat charter agreements and organising dual flags for ships, and moves to other registries.

Falling in love with shipping 

For Carolyn, shipping has turned into more than a career,
“ After joining The BMA I had the great opportunity to board a dedicated container vessel of over 250 metres in length and while on board observing this large ship and the scale of its operations, my love of shipping was cemented. It was the moment when I fully comprehended just how important the industry is to the world at large and I fell completely in love with the maritime industry.

“To be able to work within this industry, for an Authority that is dedicated to operating with discipline and due diligence, and where I know I can do my absolute best for our clients fills me with pride,” she concluded.