Celebrating a century

The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry celebrated its 100th year on Saturday, 3 December at the Seafarer’s Hall in Prospect.

The event was held in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association to mark the island’s seafarers’ contributions to maritime history.

The actual centennial anniversary of the Shipping Registry’s centennial took place in 2003. However, it was postponed at the time to avoid a clash with Cayman’s 500-year activities. Later in 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused an additional delay, but a commemorative stamp issue marked the Shipping Registry’s occasion that year, said a press release from the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands.

The celebration’s theme, ‘Changing of the Watch’, referred to a time during which a seafarer would relinquish his ‘watch’ or shift to the next seafarer, usually at dusk and at dawn. Today, it is said that a metaphorical transition has taken place as the organisation has evolved into the new Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands. An even more similar move is occurring as the young people of today are invited by the organisation to take the helm and explore new career and educational pursuits in the areas of maritime administration, naval architecture, marine engineering, and nautical studies, the release said.

During Saturday’s celebrations Education Minister Alden McLaughlin announced that two post-secondary maritime-related scholarships will be made available to eligible Caymanian recipients each year, beginning September 2006.

During the Financial Secretary’s address, Kenneth Jefferson stated, ‘We look forward to the emergence of a thriving maritime sector that will become the third pillar of the Caymanian economy.’

Other speakers included Rudolph Garvin, Cayman Islands Seafarers Association President, and CEO of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, Joel Walton. The event was also the newly appointed Governor Stuart Jack’s first appearance in his capacity.

At the celebrations, the public enjoyed a commemorative video, a Dutch auction, story-telling and entertainment by seafarers including the North Side Kitchen Band and Mr. Cardinal DaCosta.

The celebration continues this weekend in Cayman Brac on Saturday, 17 December from 10am to 2pm, at the Veterans & Seaman’ Society of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Centre on the Bluff.

The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry began primarily as a Ship Register in 1903. The physical Register itself is an important set of documents which have been preserved until present day, showing a record of all vessels registered in the Cayman Islands since that time.

Many of these registered vessels were used in the export of Cayman’s famous turtle trade, the first real means of commerce beginning in the 1930’s.

Under the UK’s assignment of ‘Categories’ to its overseas territories and their Shipping Registries (for the purpose of standard rules and regulations), the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry achieved ‘Category 1’ British Status in 1991, which has since made it possible to register any size and type of vessel.

More recently, as of 1 July 2005, the organization transitioned into the new Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands.

Today the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry has become the leading super yacht register in the world, with its own survey and inspection capabilities, and branch offices in the UK, Holland, Greece and Japan, in order to satisfy its clientele world-wide.

The Cayman Islands flag is flown on vessels in waters from the French Riviera to the marinas of the Florida coast of the United States.

In total, the Cayman Islands register is comprised of 3.2 million tons in pleasure yachts and commercial vessels as of 2003.

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