Today, January 30, the Amendments to the Merchant Shipping Code of the Russian Federation (MSC), in part of the Russian Open Register of Ships (RORS) establishment, came into force. According to amendments “a right of sailing under the State Flag of the Russian Federation shall be granted to the ships registered in the Russian Open Register of Ships and owned by foreign citizens, foreign legal entities and legal entities registered in accordance with the Federal Law on International Companies.”
The RORS-registered ships can be owned by the citizens and legal entities (including foreign citizens and foreign legal entities) of the Russian Federation, subjects of the Russian Federation and municipal entities. The ships owned by foreign citizens or ships owned by foreign legal entities should be registered in the Russian Open Register of Ships if under a bareboat agreement the ship charterer is an legal entity registered within the Federal Law on International Companies.
The ships will be registered in the Russian Open Register only in the Seaports of Kaliningrad and Vladivostok. A ship’s presence to the seaport master or bringing a ship into the Russian Federation isn't required.
Also the law introduces a novella according to which the foreign citizens and stateless persons are able to be a part of officer crew, except for the ship master and chief engineer positions, on RORS-registered ships since January 1, 2019.
At present only citizens of the Russian Federation may hold the posts of a ship master, a chief mate, a chief engineer and a radio engineer.
Entry of the law into force doesn't mean that the Register starts its work immediately. The experts highlight that it requires making amendments to a series of the Russian legislative acts.
The Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR) points out that the registration of foreign ships in the Russian Open Register of Ships is good idea. But the main task is to respect the seafarers' rights on these ships and to ensure that the outstaffing against crews is not used. Now the draft of the Federal Law on Introducing Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding Regulation of Activities of Participants of Special Administrative Regions Serving as Employer has been submitted for consideration but in fact it raises a ban on using contracted labour against crews of the seagoing ships and mixed ships (river-sea-going ships) registered under the RORS.
It should be reminded that the SUR doesn't agree with this draft law and insists on its consideration during the meeting of the Russian Trilateral Commission. The SUR has submitted this proposal to the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Russian Chamber of Shipping.