SHIPPING: Angelakos registers all eight newbuilds with Cyprus flag

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Greek ship owner and operator Angelakos (Hellas) SA is registering all eight newbuild cargo vessels under the Cyprus flag, with Deputy Minister for Shipping Natasa Pilidou christening the 82,000 DWT Oceania Graeca during a ceremony at the Jiangsu New Yangzijiang Shipbuilding shipyard in China.

This is another feather in the cap of the government’s merchant shipping department that was upgraded to a junior ministry last year in an effort to better promote Cyprus as an international maritime hub.

In January, the ministry announced its first big break with two of the P&O Ferries’ vessels registered under the Cyprus flag, as the British cross-Channel operator activated its Brexit plans to mitigate the impact of a disorderly departure from the EU.

“Difficult to describe the emotion we felt when the national anthem was heard at one of the largest shipyards in China while baptising the Oceania Graeca ship. We thank Angelakos (Hellas) SA for raising the Cyprus flag on this ship and all 7 of its sisters,” Pilidou wrote on her Twitter account after the ceremony in China.

The bulk carrier is one of eight ‘sister ships’, describing a vessel which is nearly identical with the other newbuilds in design, size, features and delivery time.

The fleet of eight bulk carriers are being delivered within 2019, with the Europa Graeca baptised during a similar ceremony in June.

The initial order placed by Angelakos in 2017 was for up to six bulkers – four firm orders and options for additional two newbuilds – at an estimated cost of USD 22-24 mln per vessel, according to VesselsValue.

The shipyard in Jingjiang has a shipbuilding capacity of 30 vessels per year or 3 million deadweight tons (DWT).

Cyprus Shipping Chamber Director General Thomas Kazakos said in earlier comments that efforts to attract shipping companies “has been underway for the past six years”, and that the focus had been on shipowners as well as maritime service, such as insurance.

Kazakos said that Cyprus’ two strongest selling points were its attractive taxation rules, approved by the European Union, that have been in place since 2010, and the credibility of the Cyprus flag.

Already, British insurer London P&I Club established a subsidiary in Cyprus to ensure continued access to trade in the European Union in case Britain loses single market access.

The Cyprus flag is on the ‘white list’ of both the Paris and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding, resulting in fewer inspections and delays, and will result in significantly more favourable tonnage tax arrangements as the ships will be flagged in an EU member state.