Congo's Flag Ranked Lowest Globally

The flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Updated Published

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) recently released an annual report ranking the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the lowest-performing shipping flag among over a hundred registries evaluated. This report places the DRC alongside Comoros, Togo, and Algeria at the bottom tier of the 2023/2024 Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table. According to the ICS, this ranking should prompt shipowners and operators to thoroughly assess the robustness of a flag state before selection.

The ICS's table is formulated using the latest available data, including factors like Port State Control records for ships registered under each flag, adherence to key international maritime treaties, engagement with recognized organizations as per the International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines, the age of the fleet under each flag, compliance with reporting obligations, participation in IMO meetings, and outcomes from the IMO’s audit scheme.

Guy Platten, the secretary-general of the ICS, emphasized the importance of this table as a crucial resource. He stated, “I encourage shipowners and operators to use this vital tool to examine whether a flag state has sufficient substance before using it, and to put pressure on their flag administrations to affect any improvements that might be necessary.”

While comprehensive, the ICS's table does not include every global flag. A notable exclusion is Gabon, recognized as the fastest-growing shipping registry in the previous year. Early in 2024, Gabon's registry experienced significant growth, largely attributed to a major reflagging initiative by Sovcomflot, Russia's leading shipping company.

Clarksons Research data indicates that Gabon's flag surged by 130.6% last year. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the registry has attracted a considerable volume of tonnage, becoming the primary flag for Russia's clandestine fleet.

The flag services for Gabon are managed by Intershipping Services, a UAE-based company controlled by the Shaikh family from India. This family also oversees the Comoros flag and Union Marine Classification Services, a new classification society headquartered in Dubai.