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Liberia takes world’s largest ship registry crown

Liberia has overtaken Panama as the world’s largest ship registry in gross tonnage according to Clarksons Research.

Panama has held the position of top ship registry since 1993.

Liberia, administrated by the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), has grown 5.6% this year to 246.5 million gt, with 5,052 ships while Panama tops 244.3 million gt but retains a lead in the number of vessels with 8,254. Liberia’s average age of the fleet is younger at 12.6 years when Panama is 19.3 years.

In third position is Marshall Island, with 186.9 million gt and 4,231 ships having grown 1.0% in 2023. Marshall Island average age of the fleet is 10.6 years.

The top ten flag states are Liberia, Panama. Marshall Island, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, People Republic of China, Malta, Bahamas, Greece, and Japan.

In Clarksons Research’s World Fleet Monitor report, both Liberia and Panama appear with 16% of the world fleet and the Marshall Islands with 12%.

The jump of Liberia at the top of the scale was expected and came as no surprise but was received with headlines in Panamanian media, noting that Liberia’s CEO Alfonso Castillero, is Panamanian who worked most of his career at Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) where he led the Ship Registry until 2014 where he joined LISCR as COO.

The Panama Maritime Authority published a statement where it emphasized having, “responsibly made decisions for adapting the Panamanian Ship Registry to the changes required by the international maritime industry and provide continuity and sustainability in the business.”

It noted that, “according to historical data from the World Fleet Monitor report (verifiable data), in July 2019, the current Administration found the Registry in decline (-2.7%), a trend that was reversed during the first 10 months of government and from May 2020, the Registry has showed positive numbers, reaching at its best moment, a growth of 3.9%.”

It added, “Measures [taken by the AMP] have led, to date, to add more than 30 million tonnes of Gross Registry, highlighting the best tonnage retention, increasing it to 36% and the best cancellation rate (decreased by more than 10%). In the past four years, the registry has grown, retention has improved, and cancellations have decreased. Even though within a purge of the registry, where delinquent vessels not complying or acting in direct violation of international norms ratified and implemented by the Republic of Panama, are cancelled.”

The statement ends with: “The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), as the regent of the Panamanian Registry, will continue managing the fleet in a responsible way, always putting first the country’s interests.”

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