Lloyd's List is part of Maritime Intelligence

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited, registered in England and Wales with company number 13831625 and address c/o Hackwood Secretaries Limited, One Silk Street, London EC2Y 8HQ, United Kingdom. Lloyd’s List Intelligence is a trading name of Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited. Lloyd’s is the registered trademark of the Society Incorporated by the Lloyd’s Act 1871 by the name of Lloyd’s.

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use. For high-quality copies or electronic reprints for distribution to colleagues or customers, please call UK support at +44 (0)20 3377 3996 / APAC support at +65 6508 2430

Printed By


The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Why the flagging standards of flag states are a problem for everyone

Listen to the latest edition of the Lloyd’s List’s weekly podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

Between dark fleet ships evading sanctions and fraudulently flagged ships disappearing off the radar completely, there is a growing number of old, unsafe ships trading outside of the established rules based order of global trading standards. At the heart of the problem are flag states that fail to offer basic oversight of the ships they purport to regulate and that gap threatens a environmental catastrophe



THE shipping industry has a problem that it doesn’t like to talk about. A dark secret.

Safety standards, by and large, have been steadily improving over recent decades. Ship casualties and incidents reached an all-time low, in spite of a global pandemic and a steady tightening of regulatory standards have raised the bar across the board.

But there is a significant and growing fleet of ships to which none of this applies.

An unprecedented deluge of sanctions has divided the industry between those operating within the established rules-based order of safety conventions, class, insurance and international oversight, versus a worryingly large section of the fleet that has disappeared off the radar.

The serious and significant safety threat that the dark fleet poses has been well documented, not least by Lloyd’s List. But the ships themselves are only part of the problem. There is a whole infrastructure that is supporting this return to opacity at the bottom of the industry.

This is not simply another sanctions story.

Fraudulently flagged ships are hopping effortlessly between registries unable or unwilling to tackle their lawless flouting of the established rules-based order. These are vessels that in some cases make the dark fleet look like law abiding citizens by comparison — often with no flag, no insurance and an impenetrable nexus of state-sponsored opacity readily supporting their illicit movements behind the scenes.

These ships do not operate in isolation — they only exist and are able to trade because they are able to operate with a combination of direct support and tacit complicity from companies, institutions and governments willing to turn a blind eye.

The support networks are complicated and opaque, but at the top of it all there are governments failing to provide meaningful oversight of ships flying their flag.

And that’s where the podcast this week is focusing — safety standards at the top of the industry may have largely improved, but the worst bits of shipping are getting worse, and that is a serious problem for everyone.

Talking on the podcast this week:

  • RightShip chief executive, Steen Brodsgaard Lund

  • International Chamber of Shipping secretary-general, Guy Platten

Related Content





Ask The Analyst

Please Note: You can also Click below Link for Ask the Analyst
Ask The Analyst

Your question has been successfully sent to the email address below and we will get back as soon as possible. my@email.address.

All fields are required.

Please make sure all fields are completed.

Please make sure you have filled out all fields

Please make sure you have filled out all fields

Please enter a valid e-mail address

Please enter a valid Phone Number

Ask your question to our analysts