The Hon. Earl Deveaux, Minister of the Environment, today attended the commissioning ceremony of the newest vessel on the Bahamian ship registry in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.

The CS Caroline was built in Jaingsu Province, Peoples Republic of China, by Tsuji Industries (Jiangsu) Co. Ltd. and designed by Algoship Designers Limited. G.T.R. Campbell Marine Consultants Limited supervised the construction of the ship. Both companies are Bahamian and have offices in Nassau. The vessel will be managed by Campbell Shipping Company Limited, also a Bahamian company.

Noting that the Peoples Republic of China and The Bahamas have had formal diplomatic relations for over 12 years, Minister Deveaux pointed out that The Bahamas Ship Registry has many vessels built in China by Bahamian companies and valued well in excess of a billion U.S. dollars. *“..our cultures have been comingled for a very long time and the relationship between our countries has proven to be mutually beneficial to both countries,”* the Minister said.

He added that The Bahamas has benefitted from significant Chinese investments, notably Hutchinson Whampoa in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and that the generosity of the Chinese people is exemplified in the gift of a Sports Complex and expert technical support by the Government of the Peoples Republic of China.

Speaking to the strength of the maritime industry, Minister Deveaux said The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) has been an industry leader in meeting the challenge of administering one of the world’s finest registries. *“Under the BMA’s oversight and with strong support, The Bahamas flagged ocean going fleet has grown to become the third largest in the world. The Bahamian Registry has 5.2 million gross tonnes comprising of 1,670 vessels which carry the Bahamian flag. The registry is widely regarded as among the best in terms of quality.”*

With regard to the ongoing and significant potential for expansion of the international maritime sector, singled out were three initiatives currently under focus:

• Yacht Registry – The BMA is well advanced in completing a set of rules for yacht registration to expand the profile of the registry.

• Arbitration Act – The Bahamas recently enacted an Arbitration Act, a feature of great value to international shipping.

• Maritime Institute – The demand for trained seafarers continues to grow. The Bahamas is developing a model for training in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Minister Deveaux also noted that the maritime sector is a significant contributor to the Bahamian economy. “*It is increasingly broad-based, serving as the centre for maritime arbitration, new and renewed facilities in and around the Port of Nassau, major international shipping operations in Freeport and the growing ship repair facilities; all of these speak to the opportunities for solid growth,”* he said.