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Panama creates register for laid up vessels

Singapore: The Panama Maritime Authority which oversees the world's largest fleet has created a special registry for vessels registered under the flag of Panama or that wish to register and are laid up due to the world financial crisis. The register will be valid for a one-year period and could be extended for an additional year. "We have taken this measure that reduces registry fees by 40% to 50% to alleviate our customers which are suffering from one of the worst crisis in the shipping industry," the head of Panama´s Merchant Marine Alfonso Castillero told Seatrade Asia Online in an exclusive interview in Singapore on the eve of Sea Asia 2009.

The resolution issued in February allows reactivation whenever it is needed and the "laid up register" does not require neither minimal crew manning nor regular inspection while the vessels are laid up. However the laid up vessels still have to maintain the minimum level of security and safety required by the flag state.

Panama´s fleet was at over 8,430 vessels and 179M gt at the end of February.

"We estimate that some 500 ships out of the total of the Panama flag, have been laid up" since the beginning of the crisis in the shipping industry, said Castillero.

Until now some 10 ship owners have already registered laid up vessels under this new procedure but Panama has received around 50 requests for quotations waiting to be proceeded, he added.  [20/04/09]

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