Monrovia — As part of a global coalition of maritime stakeholders, the Liberian Registry has proudly signed on as a signatory to the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of Piracy.
Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Eugene Nagbe, remarked, “The Liberian government is proud to be a signatory of this Declaration along with nearly 100 other maritime organizations. The Declaration demands the protection of seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea as well as greater international cooperation in combatting piracy activity. Attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Guinea have been dramatically increasing over the past 5 years, leaving the international shipping community desperate for solutions. The cost of piracy has been the loss of life of the kidnapped crew, theft of cargo, and a general increase in shipping costs regionally.
The Liberian Registry has taken an international leadership role in resolving this challenge as an ECOWAS-member as well as the second-largest flag-state in the world. Most recently, the Liberian Registry established an agreement with an EU member-state whereby an Italian naval frigate will be sent to the Gulf of Guinea for anti-piracy patrolling and protection of merchant ships. The naval frigate is intending to utilize the Freeport of Monrovia for docking purposes during its tour of duty.
However, the most notable development has been the Liberian Registry’s ability to garner US support on this regional security issue. The Registry’s US-based agent, LISCR, LLC, worked with the US House Foreign Affairs Committee in urging protection of Liberian-flagged vessels from the Nigerian government, where it is reported that much of the piracy originates. In a strong-worded letter from US House Foreign Affairs Committee leadership, including Ranking Member Rep. Michael McCaul (Republican) and Africa Subcommittee Chair Rep. Karen Bass (Democrat), the Congressional Committee wrote to President Buhari, “The Liberian-flagged fleet has a special nexus to the United States, rooted in history, strategic interest, and personal ties. Former US Secretary of State Edward Stettinius was instrumental in establishing the Liberian Ship Registry, and for over seventy-two years this program has been headquartered in the United States.” The letter went on to say “Given its scale, the Liberian flagged-fleet carries a significant portion of internationally traded goods, much destined for the American market.”
The support from the US Congress are a stark reminder of the tremendous interest that the United States economy and government has in the Liberian Registry. Commissioner Nagbe commented, “We are proud of the Liberian Registry’s continual growth and international significance. We urge all governments to take a strong stance on Piracy and to understand that the well-being of Liberian-flagged vessels is critical to Liberia, the United States, and the entire global economy. I thank the US Congress for their clear and continuous support.”
The US has also recently demonstrated its support for the Liberian Registry and LISCR with regards to sanctions-related security matters. The US State Department’s powerful Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions Division as well as OFAC have worked with the Registry in developing methods for identifying sanction offenders in the maritime industry. These efforts to cooperatively address security-related matters with the US government are undoubtedly essential to the continued support of the US for Liberia. Few other Liberian institutions or organizations have as direct of an impact on the US, and it only makes sense that America wishes to preserve its continued strong standing.