The Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Response to Growth in the UK Merchant Fleet

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Response to Growth in the UK Merchant Fleet

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This report focuses on how the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has responded to growth in the UK registered merchant shipping fleet. The Agency is responsible for maintaining the safety, security and environmental standards of commercial vessels flying the UK flag. In 2000, the Government introduced tonnage tax as part of package of measures designed to reverse the long-term decline in the UK registered merchant shipping fleet. Tonnage tax allows a company operating a vessel controlled from the UK to opt to pay tax on the basis of its tonnage rather than the profit on the vessel's trading activities. Since then the number of merchant vessels joining the UK Ship Register has increased from 1, 050 vessels in 2000 to 1, 518 by the end of 2007. The Agency responded with measures such as delegating to classification societies more of the survey work on vessel structure and equipment. It retains the survey work related to safety management systems and all the inspection work. Since 2000, it has met or exceeded most of its targets for this work with fewer marine surveyors than during the 1990s. In 2007-08, for the first time, the Agency missed some of its targets for inspections of UK vessels. The risk is that vessels not complying with UK and international regulations will operate without detection. The Agency faces challenges as its capacity to meet ship inspection targets is stretched; international competition for skilled mariners intensifies; and competing flags improve their performance, eroding the UK's quality advantage. The report concludes that, despite these challenges, the Agency's achievement in supporting the growth of the merchant fleet without significant extra resources has been an efficient use of taxpayer's money.These include records of sea service, testimonials, medical and eyesight certificates, short course or shore-based ... with the issuing administration in the majority of applications for Certificates of Equivalent Competency in our sample.

Title:The Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Response to Growth in the UK Merchant Fleet
Author: Great Britain. National Audit Office
Publisher:The Stationery Office - 2009

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