Liberia claims 'quality' recognition

Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry chief executive Scott Bergeron is claiming that the flag’s harshest critic is finally turning into an admirer.

The Liberian flag is on the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)'s list of flag-of-convenience (FOC) registries, so its ships are subject to the union’s boycott.

But, in what appears to be a softening of the ITF’s position, Bergeron was invited to the union's London headquarters to attend a presentation on its co-operation with the International Maritime Employers’ Council.

Despite the ITF’s claims to the contrary, Bergeron says it was there that he heard ITF maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith describe Liberia as a “quality register” in a discussion on FOCs.

Bergeron, whose US-based company manages the Liberian ship registry, immediately took to LinkedIn to tell his followers all about it.

“After 17 years of overseeing the Liberian flag, I finally received an invitation to the ITF's headquarters in London for International Shipping Week,” he said.

“Refreshing to hear Jacqueline Smith acknowledge that Liberia is a quality flag state and in fact better than many national flag administrations," said Bergeron. "Could this suggest the end of the ITF's misguided FOC campaign is near?”

Liberia’s inclusion on the ITF list of FOC registries has been controversial.

Along with the Marshall Islands, it outperforms many national flags on key quality indicators such as port state control. Liberian-approved wage agreements are also considered better than some of those available under ITF-approved national flag states such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, the ITF has made no indication it intends to remove Liberia from its FOC list.

An ITF spokesperson told TradeWinds: “Mr Bergeron is confusing a question he put with the answer he received. He can rest assured that the ITF is not planning to end its FOC campaign.”