Stephanie Farrugia February 15 2023 Maltese Ship Registry and its digitalisation project Fenech & Fenech Advocates | Shipping & Transport - Malta Stephanie Farrugia Shipping & Transport IntroductionSeafarer portalPreliminary market consultation for VMSCommentIntroductionWith ever-increasing technological advancements, innovations and new tools at the ready, several segments of the global maritime industry have digitalised their operations and services. The Malta Ship Registry is no exception.In line with the Maltese and EU digital strategies, the Authority for Transport in Malta has taken on the challenge of digitalising the entirety of its operations, aiming to improve its services, modernise its systems and essentially keep up with the current climate. The Malta Ship Registry within the Merchant Shipping Directorate (MSD) will be the first to benefit from an entire digital transformation as part of a project funded by the European Union's Recovery and Resilience Facility under the NextGenerationEU recovery plan.Seafarer portalThe MSD has already started to gradually digitalise its processes. In line with this objective, it has rolled out the seafarer portal for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping crew endorsement applications, "seaman books" and all seafarer-related applications. The seafarer portal is a web application that was created to minimise the manual data workload and create greater efficiency by streamlining the overall seafarer certification process.Preliminary market consultation for VMSTo continue this ongoing digitalisation project, in July 2022, the MSD launched a preliminary market consultation open to all interested persons and economic operators on the market. The consultation requested information that would assist the MSD with finalising its scope of work and the list of technical requirements necessary for the development and implementation of a vessel management system (VMS). It is expected that a tender for the provision of the VMS will be published in the coming months.The intention is for the VMS to develop and expand upon the currently existing functions of the fleet management system, which is the electronic register presently adopted by the MSD. The VMS will focus on the management of data and information stored and ensure that the various processes which take place by the different departments within the MSD are carried out efficiently. The VMS comprises several management sub-components, including:the vessel's registry;technical, safety and security matters;flag state control inspections on Maltese flagged vessels;port state control inspections on non-Maltese vessels; andradio management.The VMS must satisfy a minimum set of criteria. The varying technical details and customisations have been presented in the preliminary market consultation document, which may be found on the government procurement portal online.In parallel with the technical and functional requirements to be delivered, the digital platform must be reliable and secure, among other things. As the largest ship registry in Europe and one of the top maritime registries worldwide, the MSD needs a framework that will allow it to manage processes and information as quickly and efficiently as possible while also maintaining the highest standards of regulatory compliance. As the amount of registered tonnage continues to increase, the system must be smart and streamlined.CommentThis ongoing digital upgrade will allow the Maltese Flag Registry to remain competitive with its counterparts within the global maritime forum and responsive to the expectations of vessel owners, managers, and operators in what has become a very digital world. At time of writing, the period for written submissions in response to the preliminary market consultation through the appropriate channels have closed and the notification of tender publication date is pending.For further information on this topic please contact Stephanie Farrugia at Fenech & Fenech Advocates by telephone (+356 2124 1232) or email ([email protected]). The Fenech & Fenech website can be accessed at www.fenechlaw.com.