Megayachts that frequent Freeport and other areas in The Bahamas are well-versed in the duty-free and/or flag-state services they offer. Now the nation is developing its own dedicated yacht registry.
While yachts have been able to register under the Bahamian flag for some time, they were technically grouped under the ship registry. According to The Bahamas Maritime Authority, the megayacht ranks have been growing to the point that a separate structure seems more logical. Therefore, in late 2009, the organization began creating The Bahamas Yacht Code for the registration and management of what it terms “Large Commercial Yachts.” It will apply to yachts starting at 24 meters (79 feet) load line length and up to 3,000 gross tons. Declared non-commercial yachts will be recommended to comply with those standards.
Work continues on this and related measures. “It is just the very beginning of the process, but we are, 100 percent, going to launch it,” Ian Fair, chairman of The Bahamas Maritime Authority, told The Freeport News.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham elaborated at the Bahamas International Maritime Conference and Trade Show (BIMCATS) in early February. “We have an impressive ship register, one of the largest fleets in the world with over 52 million in gross tonnage,” he told the assembly. “We look to the growth of a Mega Yacht Registry.” Rather than have the biggest registry, Ingraham added, “what we desire is to have the best. I hope that you agree with me when I say that we are well on our way toward achieving this goal. In this regard, we are proud to be on the White Lists of all of the world’s Port State Control regimes.”
Fair further told The Freeport News that it’s in talks with Bradford Marine Bahamas to help develop and promote the registry. While Bradford Marine Bahamas didn’t respond to our request for details, the purpose-built facility has been catering to megayachts since the late 1990s. It has 2,500 feet of docks benefitting from 25-foot-deep water. It can also haul yachts to 230 feet in an on-site floating drydock. Even larger ones can be serviced next door at Grand Bahama Shipyard thanks to a partnership agreement.