Panos Kirnidis BEng. MSc., CEO, Palau International Ship Registry
« The world’s oceans are big enough for another superior Flag, like Palau; and what we do at Palau International Ship Registry (PISR) is proving to ship owners, managers and other stakeholders in the maritime sector that the age of the Flag is no barrier to excellence.»
Which has been the route to success for the PALAU INTERNATIONAL SHIP REGISTRY from its beginning until today?
The Palau International Ship Registry (PISR) was created by an amendment to the Title 7 of the Republic of Palau National Code in 2010 and was appointed by the government of the Republic of Palau as the Ship Registry Administrator. The Republic of Palau is a presidential republic, with a Compact Agreement of Free Association (COFA) with the United States of America.
The COFA is an international agreement establishing and governing the relationships of free association between the United States and the three Pacific Island nations that, formerly composed the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. The governments of the United States and Palau concluded a COFA in 1986, and the Compact entered into force on 1 October 1994, concluding Palau’s transition from trusteeship to independence as the last portion of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The Compact sets forth the free and voluntary association of the governments of USA and Palau. It primarily focuses on the issues of government, economic, security and defense relations.
Since the very early days both the Republic of Palau and the Palau International Ship Registry have identified that a new Registry should play a key role among the maritime industry and both have shown commitment to develop a world class registry. We have created a registry that provides the highest standards of administrative, legal, technical and support functions to ship-owners and managers for documenting the ship and registering it under the Flag of the Republic of Palau.
PANOS KIRNIDIS WAS APPOINTED LATE IN 2016 AS THE NEW CEO OF PALAU INTERNATIONAL SHIP REGISTRY (PISR) AND HE HAS WORKED ON IMPROVING THE OVERALL STATUS OF THE REGISTRY, ITS MANAGEMENT TEAM AND RECRUITING EXPERIENCED AND VERY WELL QUALIFIED STAFF TO BE A PART OF THE REGISTRY.
Excellence is not always easy to achieve and the shipping business, as one of the most regulated industries; can be tough one to operate in. Palau with a permanent delegation at IMO follows the ratification of International Conventions and actively participates in the work programs of IMO Committees and Sub-Committees.
As a new Flag, we follow a process of maturity which impartially includes building solid relationships with the international shipping community based on confidence, honesty and credibility. One of the real benefits of being new into the arena is that we have had the time to hire several experts with more than 30 years’ experience. We have analysed the industry, identified and maintained the strengths of the competition and rectified the weakness, while avoiding the early errors, and mistakes made.
It has been over 25 years since the last time a flag has been launched and today positions among the top flags; we may be new in terms of being the only new registry to come into existence after 25 years with a precise strategic plan to play a key role among the sector, but we are not novices in the industry. We are building on our experience and knowledge and maintain the highest possible standards.
We know that success comes by meeting customer needs in all aspects of their business by providing smooth, faster, efficient and cost effective services, with full administrative support and tailored customer services. This is our commitment and this is what we have been working diligently on.
In January 2017 PISR announced the expansion of its USA, Houston Head Office to Piraeus, Greece – now the European Head Office. This expansion of the PISR network and the new office is part of a comprehensive plan to develop the registry. It is a strategic move that gives us the opportunity to increase our range of services and the move is a strong indication of the Registry’s commitment to the Greek and European shipping sectors, as well as providing worldwide support to ship-owners. Whatever we do comes with the same attention to detail we have become recognized for worldwide.
We have no doubts about our abilities in providing services to our clients across the globe. PISR now has the right professional maritime personnel, auditors, surveyors and inspectors on call and ready to meet the clients’ needs and wants.
Our professional services are not only about knowledge but also the enthusiasm and diligence our employees have for PISR and our operations. We stand with anyone in the industry on these lines.
Was the new office in Piraeus just a symbolic move or is there a deeper reason for this decision?
The Piraeus office is PISR’s European Head Office with full decision making authority and functions made independently from our USA Head Office. Its establishment is part of a comprehensive development plan, as Greek shipping has always been a strong barometer of the world’s shipping industry. The registry operates very successfully out of Houston but we understand the relevance and importance of the Greek shipping industry and the Greek shipowners who told us that speed in decision making is important, especially when it impacts on operation and technical management of the ships.
PISR is the only registry in Piraeus being able to make strategic decisions without being coordinated by a constant reference to another central location in a different time zone. This gives us a management structure that works for our clients quickly and with the same level of confidence.
It was a fundamental move necessary for our Registry to fully serve the needs of the Greek maritime stakeholders and provide our state-of-the-art value added services to one of the most competitive markets in the world. With our presence in Piraeus and the expansion of operational hours between USA and Europe, we cover the globe with continuous head office operation by prompt, precise and ultra-modern services and support.
We are here to assure the Greek ship-owners that Palau International Ship Registry stands with them as a reliable solution provider to face the challenges of the today’s demanding shipping market. We provide, consistency, reliability, responsiveness, quick turnaround of queries and around the clock services making Palau International Ship Registry stand out from other registries.
In addition to our USA and Europe Head Offices, PISR has dedicated Deputy Registrars in more than 24 countries, committing that PISR supports its clients around the clock.
In which countries do you have Deputy Registrars?
We have spent time finding and employing people around the shipping world who will add value to our services and come with a sense of dedication we demand. In the six years, we have been operating we have met many professionals whose skills we now use for our clients.
We have 33 Deputy Registrars worldwide in major maritime hubs in 24 countries with detailed knowledge and experience of ship management, inspection, engineering and crew management in the USA and Greece but also in Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Cyprus, UAE, Egypt, Germany, India, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Panama, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, and Ukraine. This means we can truly offer 24/7 technical support for clients.
If needed, we can source surveyors, engineers and legal experts to handle any issue that arises for ship owners and managers. We have no concerns about our global reach for any of our services.
In which ways do you differ regarding the other registries?
Firstly, Palau International Ship Registry is the newest Flag to come into existence in more than 25 years among those that today stay at the top of the rank. Our goal is clear, to be one of the leading ship registries in the global shipping industry. As times change and technology develops; our clients are looking for traditional registry support but they are always open to new technologies and developments in legal matters, welfare issues and maritime regulations.
Palau International Ship Registry is established and designed to redefine the Ship Registration service as it is time for a next generation of Smart Electronic Flag (SEF). PISR is built on Information Technology and software systems, by bringing together the best of our deep thinking and experience and together with the technology implementation we meet the customers’ needs in all aspects of their business.
With the development of SEF; our unique custom web solution, we process all the applications and workflows, accessible by different levels of industry stakeholders. In PISR era the shipowner and manager have the power on their desktop to process all their ship and seafarer’s inquiries to PISR and retrieve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of their fleet. This is how we provide smooth, faster, efficient and cost effective 21st century registration services, with full administrative support and tailored customer service. Therefore, another major benefit of being a new registry in the industry is that we have developed our processes and build on a foundation of a fully electronic registry. The installation of leading ERP (SAP – Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (SalesForce – Customer Relation Management) systems and their integration with our (SEF) Smart Electronic Flag custom made solution, implements a customer centric philosophy and a client friendly policy to provide innovative solutions to every problem.
Another prime differentiator of PISR is the Deficiency Prevention System (DPS), uniquely designed and developed by Palau International Ship Registry and launched in January 2017. There is a dedicated DPS department within PISR which monitors the location and destination of the Palau flagged vessels and analyzes with over 93% confidence their risk performance and priority for inspection by a PSCO. The monitoring and screening occurs without disturbing or requesting any information from the shipowner or manager until the point that PISR appoints a Flag State Inspector (FSI) – free of charge – to attend the ship and assist the Master and the Crew for preparedness prior the PSC attendance; and remain onboard during the PSC inspection. Apart from the qualitative aspect that DPS focuses on the deficiency prevention and makes it a tremendous service adding value; there is a significant cost effective value as the attended FSI carries out the Annual Safety Inspection (ASI) and combined with an ISM and ISPS audits when required.
Palau International Ship registry differentiates by innovation, as is the first Flag in the world that fully implemented a Customer Advocacy Program (CAP).
The program consists from three tier levels; Silver, Gold and Platinum. Earning more tier points helps the customer to reach the next membership tier, while points can be exchanged to earn benefits. Building up the tier status from Silver to Platinum will give access to the customer to a wider range of promotions, services, and benefits.
We focus on leadership development; we have created the Apprentice Leader System (ALS) which is a new leadership capability framework. PISR consists from professionals and experts with long vast experience in the maritime sector; however, we continuously develop our workforce to ensure we have the right people to keep us up to date and be beneficial to the Flag and our clients. With the expansion and the changes to our workforce and structure, we continue to invest in our leadership development by rolling out skill, knowledge and capability programs to all employees. PISR’s Apprenticeship Leader System, offers an efficient way to learn skills and the company’s values, because the training is planned and organized and the apprentices earn as they learn. An apprentice works with the mentor who teaches a complete selected skill. We wanted to provide young people with the opportunity to be mentored by maritime professionals. It is a real privilege for this new generation to be guided by the right people. As we all know the practice is the corner stone and with the expansion of the maritime sector following the technological revolution, the apprenticeship system is again revolutionized to apply to the new technology age. Young people are the next generation and our vision is of a world where young people are supported in pursuit of a better future; a world where the next generation can do better than the last.
Tell us a little more about PISR in terms of the number of ships, their types and ages? Where do you target in the Greek market?
We currently have more than 300 vessels in our registry of several types and sizes and we are absolutely committed to providing fast and efficient services to the shipping community at large, with a customer oriented philosophy, while ensuring the safety of life at sea and respect for the environment.
It has always been our intention to increase the size of the registry but this will be through offering dedicated and top class-leading services for ship-owners.
Achieving the highest standards takes time and we have no intention in plunging into a quantity over quality issue and failing to meet our own exacting standards. This is a planned progression with markers along the way. We need to grow commercially and maintain standards but at the same time maintain a quality fleet of vessels. We can’t ignore the reality that any new registry will take time to develop trust with industry stakeholders such as owners, ship managers, banks, charterers and insurance companies. Our fleet will become respected for the quality of the vessels and the service PISR will offer them. We know what sorts of vessels we want and we also know how long it will take us to establish our fleet. In the meantime, all we can do is continue to build trust as well as volume and show potential owners we are a registry to reckon with.
The world’s oceans are big enough for another superior Flag, like Palau; and we will show to ship owners, managers and other stakeholders in the maritime sector that the age of the Flag is no barrier to excellence.
Does your registry include educative courses?
We contiously invest in people, and resources as we believe that is very important factor to success. Our most recent educative programme was a series of February seminars for the PISR Flag State Inspectors hosted by the Italian Coast Guard in Rome. These covered Port State Control, Safety of Navigation, Maritime Security, Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL) and minimum training standards for seafarers (STCW Convention). Experts from the Italian Coast Guard included the Head 6 ° Reparto – Safety of Navigation, Rear Admiral Luigi Giardino, accompanied by representatives of the main bodies of Recognized Organizations RINA, Bureau Veritas and DNV GL, who outlined new developments in procedures and training for seafarers (STCW Convention) and discussed the Port State Control procedures/inspections scheme.
We also know it takes time and effort to build trust within the industry and mostly the Greek reputable maritime stakeholders. Gaining trust needs functional and market competency, experience and real competitive advantages and PISR has to prove to the maritime world that we are dependable and reliable, knowledgeable and determined to steer the way ahead. Our main goal is to deepen the confidence of the shipowners and managers in moving to the next generation of smart Ship Registration services. PISR evolves continually in order to adapt to the market requirements and to new technology and comprehensive registration process, to adjust to the client’s needs and especially to tackle new barriers.
How are you managing to ensure you have the right surveyors and auditors across the globe to cover your clients?
We have taken time to find the right people with the in-depth knowledge and experience as well the abilities needed to become one of the world’s leading registries. Our inspectors and auditors are the front-facing representatives of PISR and we can source surveyors, engineers and legal experts to handle any issues for our clients across the globe.
Any registry will succeed or fail on the competencies of its staff. Without the best surveyors, engineers and auditors the work of a registry will fail to convince ship owners and managers of its worth. Our clients want us on their side; they want us to help with planning of budgets, repairs, maintenance and ensure that their ships will run smoothly from port to port.
If you could pick one area that you think PISR will excel in over the next few years, what would it be?
There is no doubt that we have our finger on the pulse of maritime technology. Autonomous vessels will have reduced crews – I don’t see robot ships being a reality for some time – and so our services looking after seafarers’ welfare issues, health and safety as well as environmental issues will become even more important. Technology saves us all time and in some cases money. What we believe in at PISR is that the correct use of technology is not to cut corners but to offer the shipping community services that retain the human element. Talking to PISR will always involve you talking to a real human being!
AS A NEW FLAG, WE FOLLOW A PROCESS OF MATURITY WHICH IMPARTIALLY INCLUDES BUILDING SOLID RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING COMMUNITY BASED ON CONFIDENCE, HONESTY AND CREDIBILITY.
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