New website contains details on vessel registration and certification

The Netherlands is stepping up marketing of its registry of sea-going vessels and superyachts to generate more work for the Dutch maritime sector. It has launched a website – www.nlflag.nl – with details on vessel registration and certification, manning requirements and Dutch shipping and tax policies.

“We will also attend trade shows and approach potential [superyacht] clients, like managers, charterers and owners,” says Martin Bloem of Marstrat, the maritime sector consultancy hired to raise the Dutch shipping registry’s profile.

In the past decade, flag registries have become very competitive, which has hurt the Netherlands. Lacking a single maritime authority, it has a hodge-podge of authorities dealing with ship registry issues and not always in English.

The Dutch flag campaign’s website creates some order in that chaos. It markets the Netherlands as a high-quality, financially secure nation with a well-developed maritime technology sector. And Dutch-flagged yachts and ships that meet strict safety, security and employment norms. There are currently 1,220 Dutch-flagged vessels, the vast majority commercial ships.

The Dutch-flagging of superyachts, built in the Netherlands, was not always a priority for their manufacturers.

A decade ago, Dutch yards were busy pushing ever larger, highly customised yachts out the door and rarely saw them back for a refit or maintenance. That business went to Mediterranean yards.

But in recent years Dutch builders have invested heavily in capacity, especially in the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Flushing, eager to service and refit yachts they built. At the same time, they began promoting a Northern European superyacht route to nudge large yachts up north, out of the Med.

The government says the time is right for a competitive flag registry to create work for builders and their suppliers. It notes that in 2019, the Netherlands replaced Germany to become the most competitive country in Europe, according to the World Economic Forum. Worldwide it ranks fourth, after Singapore, the US and Hong Kong.