VII International forum
“Marine Industry of Russia”
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Department of affairs of the President of the Russian Federation

Moscow, 24, B.Yakimanka Str
24-25 May 2017
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More on registration, classification and surveillance

Ship Registration in the Russian Federation

On December 20, 2005, the President of the Russian Federation signed Federal Law 168-ФЗ On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Related to Formation of the Russian International Registry of Vessels. According to experts, this event became this was the most significant event in the sector of regulation of merchant shipping in Russia from the date of execution of the Merchant Marine Code (MMC) of the Russian Federation in 1999.

Adoption of the law was caused by rather a deplorable situation when the majority of the Russian vessels runs under so called flags of convenience. In the world, the flight of vessels to the countries of flags of convenience began in the 80-s of the last century when the ability of ship registration in offshore zones appeared. In our country, this trend was contained until the collapse of the USSR and after the quantity of Russian merchant ships started to fall rapidly. 18.4% of Russian ships run under flags of convenience by the end of 1992 and in 2005 this share grew to 58%. Navigation companies remaining loyal to Russia went into the deepest recession the key factors of which are not only heavy taxes preventing renewal of these companies’ fleet, but unreasonably hard shipbuilding credit conditions offered by Russian commercial banks. And foreign banks allotted credits under condition of registering ships in the countries selected by these banks. So, Russia faced a justifiable threat to lose the status of the great marine power.

According to the world experience, the optimal measure against such situation is formation of the so called “second” or “parallel” registry, and in 2005, legislators attempted to do so. It should be taken into account that the Russian Maritime Registry of Shipping was formed by adoption of the set of amendments to some existing laws of the Russian Federation, and not by a new law. These laws are the Merchant Marine Code, the Tax Code, and the Law on the Customs Tariff. However, in order to encourage return of vessels under the Russian flag, it was necessary to draw some more statutory acts.

In April, 2006, the executive order of the Government of the Russian Federation 583-р On Approval of the List of Commercial Seaports the Shipmasters of Which Record Vessels in the Russian International Registry of Vessels. In June, 2006, the Ministry of Transportation of the Russian Federation issued order 87 On Approval of the Rules of Registration of Vessels and Relative Rights in Commercial Seaports which is related to technical issues of registration of vessels in RMRS. In August, 2006, Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation 1116-p on granting to the Ministry of Transportation of the Russian Federation the right to vest foreign classification societies with authorities to class vessels recorded in RMRS and to issue certificates in accordance with international agreements.

However, implementation of the Law delayed due to controversy between ship-owners and the State Customs Committee which did not acknowledge it as a directly applicable law and insisted upon payment of fee for imported vessels. Only in the summer of 2007, the relevant Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation was published and the question was taken off the table.

The other problem are unacceptable conditions of vessel insurance. As for heavy-tonnage vessels, the registration in RMRS seemed unattractive due to the prohibition against insurance by foreign insurance companies and ridiculously low insurance settlements offered by domestic companies. In consequence of hard work, the Federal Law On Amendments to Article 4 of the Federal Law On Insurance Operations in the Russian Federation was adopted providing insurance of vessels registered in RMRS both in Russian and foreign insurance companies. Thus, the Law acquired the complete form only by the end of 2007. However, results expected by legislators will be obtained several years later: according to experts, weighty results will be reached only in 2015. And currently, mostly owners of sea- and river-going crafts take the opportunity of registering in RMRS although there is a trend of registration of heavy-tonnage vessels.

Currently in the Russian Federation, vessels can be registered in:

  • the State Registry of Ships (SRS);
  • the bareboat charter registry;
  • the ship’s book;
  • the Russian Maritime Registry of Shipping.

Vessel registration under the flag of the Russian Federation is a function of the Government. As for registration in offshore zones, many firms, both domestic and foreign, render relative services.

Advantages of Vessel Registration in the Countries of the Flag of Convenience

  • possibility of anonymous possession of a vessel;
  • simplified order of registration;
  • nearly full absence of direct taxes, and, in some zones, of indirect ones;
  • simplicity of transfer of vessel possession, and so on.

The selection of a flag in accordance with economic interests of the owner and basing on attractiveness of some region for business is another important advantage. With registration of a vessel under the flag of some jurisdiction of a certain region, a lot of formalities can be avoided. Protection offered by some jurisdiction also influences the choice.

Vessel Classification and Engineering Supervision

Vessel classification is a procedure of awarding a certain category (Registry class) in accordance with its nomination, navigating zone, type of main engine, travel mode, number of screw shafts, hull material, and design-construction type. Vessel classification is performed by classification authorities. Essentially, such organizations tend to maintain security of navigation, hydraulic constructions, human life and environment, as well as of conservation of transport cargo.

Engineering supervision and survey of vessels during operation are the part of the vessel classification activities. Vessel survey consisting in the class compliance inspection comprises survey of availability of technical documents, certificates for constructional and other materials and products, certificates of QC department of the organization, those issued by results of previous surveys, and ship-owner certificates. According to the survey results, documents of the Registry or another supervising authority are issued.

Vessel class can be confirmed, changed or lost basing on the results of the survey. It can be recovered, too.

In Russia, powered vessels with main engine capacity not less than 55 kW; non-powered vessels with tonnage not less than 80 tons; all passenger, cargo-and-passenger, oil-loading, towing vessels; pleasure crafts with at least 12 people aboard with any main engine capacity; and any marine stationary platforms designed for mining operations and fixed by means of poles, gravitation or a combination of methods, are classified by the Federal State Institution – Russian Maritime Registry of Shipping.

Powered inland waterway vessels with main engine capacity not less than 55 kW, non-powered vessels with tonnage not less than 80 tons; all passenger and liquid cargo vessels, pontoon bridges at inland waterways, ferry crossings and mixed (sea-, river-going) vessels are classified by the Federal State Institution – Russian Registry of Inland Waterway Shipping.

Sports vessels are classified by the State Committee of the Russian Federation on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Sea pleasure boats with at most 12 people aboard with any main engine capacity and tonnage used for seagoing as well as small sea-going and inland waterway coast-trade vessels are classified by the State Inspection of Small Vehicles of MChS of Russia. Sea-going decked cruisers with overall length under 24 m and number of passengers aboard over 12 people are classified by the Russian Maritime Registry of Shipping.

Small catching vessels, fishing ships not regulated by the RMRS or the Russian Registry of Inland Waterway Shipping; powered decked and undecked vessels with main engine capacity less than 55 kW; non-powered vessels with tonnage not less than 80 tons are classified by the State Committee of the Russian Federation for Fishery and, by its order, the State Administration of Fishery Seaport (SAFS), the Federal State Unitary Enterprise of State Research and Design Institute on Development and Operation of the Fleet awarded by the Order of “Badge of Honor” (FGUP Giprorybflotom), and the Kaliningrad State Technical University (KSTU).

Besides, the law of the Russian Federation provides classification of Russian vessels by national classification societies of other countries having respective approval on the territory of our country. Currently, there are over fifty national classification societies, and ten of them make part of the ACS – International Association Classification Societies.

There is an opinion that demand for services of foreign national classification societies among Russian ship-owners and shipping companies is conditioned by the fact that these organizations have rich experience all over the world and know details of international acts regulating commercial navigation. Meanwhile, RMRS which was organized in 1913 joined ACS in 1969, so, we can be sure in the experience of the Russian Registry. Besides, there are a lot of acts issued by ACS drafted with the direct participation and on the initiative of the RMRS. It should be noted that the RMRS is the only Registry having vessels with nuclear MPP under its jurisdiction. The domestic Registry also has huge and invaluable experience of classification of ice-class vessels and their surveillance.


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