A Review of the Red Ensign Group

The Red Ensign Group (or REG for short) is a broad umbrella that consists of various British Shipping Registers.

It is primarily split into two groups. The first group is made up of the United Kingdom and the three Crown Dependencies, while the second group includes the eight UK Overseas Territories. The three Crown Dependencies cover Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, and the eight UK Overseas Territories group include Gibraltar, Montserrat, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, St Helena, Falkland Islands,  and the Turks & Caicos Islands together. All these entities operate ship registration activities within their respective jurisdictions.

Regardless of the place of registration, all REG registered vessels are regarded as ‘British ships’ and they are obliged to fly the REG flag.


Brief Description of REG

The Red Ensign (aka “Red Duster” occasionally) could trace back to the early 17th Century as a standard-bearer or flag flown by the Royal Navy. The idea was later adopted by the commercial sector and this flag is now widely used to fly as the civil ensign of the British merchant fleet.

The group’s mission is to preserve the honor associated to the great Royal Navy and to further expand on the reputation of the Red Ensign, by continuingly registering a larger and ever more diverse fleet of ships plying the open seas through its main United Kingdom register and the other subsidiaries listed above.

Central to the REG strategy is the careful calibration of quality control and organic growth. The objective is to promote the Red Ensign brand by extracting maximum advantage from the close cooperation and collaboration of its extensive network of partnerships.

REG believes strongly that the availability of this resource pool, and subsequently the talents that exist within, would further bolster its vision of the pursuit of the finest quality and reputation among the British fleet.

The REG fleet size has grown tremendously over the years. The last published data showed that it has a total of 50.1 million gross-tons (GRT) cumulatively. At that size, Red Ensign Group is regarded as the top 7 Flag State internationally by GRT.

More than simply focusing on the expansion of fleet size, one stated objective of REG is to enhance the reputation of the British fleet, to a level where it is invariably considered as “quality shipping”. For this goal, there is a need to be a consistency in all areas, including high technical, social and administrative standards, as prescribed by the REG Quality Objectives.

Being part of the European Union (EU), REC recognizes that there are always going to be fundamental differences across EU Member State Obligations and others. However, being part of an extensive network which consists of both internal and external partners, REG believes it is well placed to maintain consistent quality standards.

The REG motto has always been “Strength and quality through collaboration”.


Operation of Shipping Registers

 All entities (including the Crown Dependencies and the UK Overseas Territories) within REG are organized into two categories. The Category 1 includes Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man and United Kingdom. The Category 2 consists of Jersey, Montserrat, Anguilla, Falkland Islands, Guernsey, St Helena, and Turks & Caicos Islands.

Broadly speaking, the distinction between both the categories is as follows:

Category 1 covers those larger international registers. These registers would have no restriction on the kind of tonnage, type and length for the ships to be registered.

Category 2 covers registers for commercial vessels (with top tonnage set at 150 gross tons or GRT) and pleasure crafts (with top tonnage set at 400 GRT) only. Take note that a pleasure craft, by virtue of definition, refers to vessel not operated commercially and its use is restricted for the purpose of sport or pleasure.


More on Ship Registration

The REG ship registers have a fine reputation in the maritime industry, especially with regards to quality assurance. Collectively the Red Ensign Group has garnered a strong following among many ship owners with discerning eyes on high standards. Flying a REG flag is tantamount to the highest standard in the industry. Moreover, it gives peace of mind as REG registers work hard to make sure that all ships registered by them could operate safely onboard. You can review their website to learn more about the Group and links are also provided so you can access individual member’s websites that would further elaborate on the kind of services and benefits one can attain by being associated with the British registration.

While all entities operate under the same REG umbrella, individual REG members are autonomous regarding the registration fees. Usually such information can be available directly from the member’s website or an interested party can get in touch with the local registry. All contact details are displayed prominently on every website (of the Group and individual member registers).

Similarly you can find out more on the standards applied by REG registers from the individual website or get in touch directly with the individual REG registry.


REG Operation as a Whole

According to public data last published in May 2011, REG has handled some 3,959 vessels among its British commercial fleet, with a total combined tonnage of 46,561,241 GRT. That achievement placed REG 6th in terms of size among international registers.


What is the REG Conference?

Every year, REG organizes an International Conference to bring together its diverse spread of members and this also provides an opportunity for face-to-face discussions. The topics are structured to be in line with the latest trends and developments impacting the international maritime sector.  This offers the much welcome opportunity for members to share best practice and collaborate on how to further optimize REG performance in the international market. While the group is focused on pursuing commercial success, just as importantly, REG is absolutely relentless in setting exemplary standards in order to better serve international maritime obligations.

The conference includes a REG Technical Forum group, which oversees that all REG colleagues observe and apply consistent technical policy across all the fleets that are registered. This is achieved pretty much through knowledge and experience sharing. The forum also takes on an international focus, like developing new technical standards for the wider maritime industry, namely the Large Yacht Code and Passenger Yacht Code, both which are hailed as the standard bearers in terms of industry safe standards.