The Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) is enlisting talent from all corners of the organisation to take an active role in shaping its future.

The list of rising stars tapped to support the new generation of leaders at the world’s second largest flag state include its newly appointed senior vice president of global services, Benson Peretti.

The content marketing team at TradeWinds sat down with Peretti during a recent visit to LISCR’s headquarters in Dulles, Virginia.

While the registry has enjoyed extensive growth in recent years Peretti insisted that world domination is not central to its vision for the future.

“What's more important to us is making sure that we are able to support the vessels and the owners that use the Liberian flag by providing the best possible service and ensuring compliance with their national regulations,” he said. “For us, it’s not about being big, it’s about being the best…”

Choosing the right flag

Peretti acknowledged that many shipowners focus on price when shopping for a flag state but noted a growing number are equally concerned about service, support, experience, technical acumen and, most importantly, safety.

“Not all flags are alike when it comes to service,” he explained. “You need [a flag] that picks up the phone. You need [a flag] that truly understand [current] rules and regulations, and how to implement those rules and regulations in a way that is practical.”

Shipping never sleeps, which is why shipowners and operators value round-the-clock service from flag states. Access to support anywhere, anytime, is particularly critical when vessels encounter technical or regulatory issues at sea.

“If your vessels are trading globally…you can't rely on somebody that keeps bank hours and takes the weekends off and doesn't have anybody answering on holiday,” Peretti continued. “You'd think [24/7] support would be standard in the industry but it's not. That's why we pride ourselves in being 24/7, being global and having service delivery at the points where owners and operators need it.”

BENSON'S BONA FIDES
  • Joined LISCR in 2011
  • Opened Singapore office and led subsequent expansion across Asia
  • Appointed SVP of global services in 2018
  • Graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy
  • Holds MBA from the National University of Singapore and University of California (Los Angeles)
  • Sailed aboard containerships for seven years, rising to the rank of chief mate
  • Former officer in the US Navy and continues to serve in the Navy Reserve
  • Originally from Maine where he learned to sail as a child, in and around Casco Bay

Peretti pointed out that the lack of 24/7 support can impact an operator’s bottom line. If, for instance, a ship was detained by port state control on a Friday afternoon, and its flag state only fields calls on weekdays, the vessel could be off hire for 48 hours or more.

“If you call off hire, you can incur penalties, fines and extra fees for berthing and pilotage,” Peretti added.

“There's all sorts of expenses associated with somebody not picking up a phone. That’s something people really don't think about when they're making that initial decision [about a flag state]. Having a flag state that's responsive is an excellent insurance policy because it really doesn't cost you that much money. But, when you need it, it can save you a lot of [time and money].”

Technology and the changing role of flags

While registries have not, generally speaking, been seen as a source of technical knowledge or support in the past, Peretti believes this is starting to change as organisations like LISCR take a more active role in ship design and innovation.

“Flags need to be involved in all aspects of the technical process of the vessel, especially now, amid the shift towards a [more] goal-based [approach to safety and environmental regulations]…” he said.

“We have here, in-house, dedicated departments and professionals that look at these new areas of technology and innovation, and how [these new technologies can], in practical terms, lead to efficiencies, cost savings and environmental advantages.

“It’s been eye opening to see just how involved our team is. There's so much that goes into the approval process of these new designs that, if you don't have an in-depth skill set within your organisation, you're way behind. You’ve missed the boat.”

While there’s a lot of hype surrounding topics like autonomous ships, Peretti believes there are more pressing technological advancements on which shipowners and flag states should focus their near-term attention.

You look at autonomous shipping and, personally, I don't think that's a problem we need to be solving right now,” he said. “We have enough issues to deal with—the new and constantly changing regulations and the uncertain way in which we're supposed to implement these regulations.

ABOUT THIS CONTENT

An advertiser commissioned this article, which was produced by the content marketing team at NHST Global Publications, the publisher of TradeWinds,

“We're having a challenging enough time running ships with people on them. Sure, autonomous ships are something we should look at, should consider. But there are so many other things we can focus on now, [innovative ship designs and technologies] that make ships safer and more efficient.”