Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Panama registry of ships has been able to provide an immediate response to ship owners through digital services, according to the director Merchant Navy of the Panama Maritime Authority, Rafael Cigarruista.
According to Cigarruista, the positive thing about the situation is that we have been able continue to flag ships. The Merchant Marine Directorate is working 90% remotely, which has allowed us to operate through international and local offices.
Since the quarantine of the coronavirus
pandemic was declared, the requirement of more than 600 ships has been met, Cigarruista said. They have requested information related to extensions of audits, labor extensions of seafarers to postpone authorizations of contracts, expired licenses, crew permits, among others, Cigarruista explained. Segumar's offices have answered between 7,000 and 8,000 emails.
Many new processes have been implemented electronically in order to improve the service quality offered to shipowners and customers, such as the issuance of registration certificates and radio licenses, documents that were made before the pandemic at the headquarters of the Panama Maritime Authority.
For example, the use of the QR code (two-dimensional barcode) is applied, which takes the user to an application that displays the information of the document, and check its authenticity. By doing this, any authority or third party are able to confirm the validity of the documents.
Merchant Navy is also in the process of migrating to electronic signature.
"The measures were already scheduled but after the pandemic they were pushed forward to respond to the shipowners needs," said Cigarruista.
Panama's ship registry closed 2019 with 8,289 flagged vessels and is currently close to 8,300 vessels, according to the AMP.
With the implementation of services through electronic means, the delay in the flagging process has been improved by between 50% and 60%, he added.
Regarding the quality of the fleet, Cigarruista affirms that the Control and Monitoring Department all new ships that intend to enter the registry go through a thorough due diligence process, which shows the ships' all previous history, and if a ship has been previously under any sanctions.