However, ships registered under the Cook Islands flag account for only 0.2 per cent of all registered ships throughout the world. And now Maritime Cook Islands is aiming to get that figure to at least 1 per cent, aiming eventually to be among the top 20 countries in the world.
Port State Control Committee data relating to last year’s Concentrated Inspection Campaign which focused on the quality of navigation carried out by vessels within the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) region from September 1 to November 30, last year, found Cook Islands-flagged vessels within the Tokyo MOU had a relatively low rate of detention, with only one boat being detained out of the seven inspected during the campaign.
However, according to a report released by the Paris MOU authority last year, Cook Islands boats posed a ‘medium risk’, and were subsequently ‘black listed’. The Cook Islands ranked 63 out of 73 countries in the Paris MOU report, with just under 10 per cent of all inspected Cook Islands ships being detained.
Last year, only two Cook Islands boats were detained out of the 33 inspected within the Tokyo MOU. From 2014 to the end of 2017, throughout all MOU zones, Cook Islands-flagged vessels were inspected 1236 times and 104 of those resulted in detentions, meaning a detention rate of roughly 8 per cent. Maritime Cook Islands chief executive Glenn Armstrong says they missed their goal by 42 detentions.
“One boat (being detained) last year would have been great, we would have loved for it to have been zero, but two boats being detained (within the Tokyo MOU) isn’t bad,” says Armstrong.
Maritime Cook Islands performs all Flag State duties for the Cook Islands government through an agreement with the Ministry of Transport and Armstrong says his team is working hard to maintain the Cook Islands flag’s good reputation.
During the concentrated inspection campaign, Tokyo MOU member authorities assessed vital points of compliance in accordance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) on all types of foreign merchant ships.
Globally, Cook Islands-flagged vessels accounted for less than 10 per cent of all detained boats last year. However, Armstrong says the goal is a maximum of 5 per cent. Maritime Cook Islands carries out inspections of Cook Islands-flagged vessels twice a year, to ensure that they are up to scratch.
“We are progressively trying to improve the quality of ships under the Cook Islands flag. We ask to see things such as their planned passage from certain ports,” says Armstrong.
He adds that most of the boats registered under the Cook Islands flag are older vessels.
Armstrong says the Cook Islands flag is a relatively young flag, which makes his job slightly more complicated. Maritime Cook Islands recently took a proactive approach to try and increase their appeal to younger ships, banning any new registrations of ships over 25 years old.