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The Directorate of the Merchant Marine recently published Notice 171 of the Merchant Navy announcing the entry into force of the Malta Passenger Yacht Code (hereinafter “PYC”) with effect from 25 May 2021. The drafting and issuance of the PYC is a clear indication of Malta’s commitment to the super yacht industry.
The PYC was developed in consultation with various industry stakeholders including yacht designers, yacht builders, yacht managers, yacht builders associations, repair yards, specialist service providers, manufacturers, surveyors and recognized organizations (ROs); as a larger representation of this industry.
Prior to the entry into force of the PYC, commercial yachts registered under the very prestigious Maltese flag and carrying more than twelve (12) passengers were required to meet requirements similar to those applicable to passenger ships as these commercial yachts at passengers do not fall within the scope of the Malta Commercial Yacht Code. Due to the increasing size of commercial yachts and the heavy demands on passenger ships, the Merchant Marine Directorate has recognized the need to develop the PYC for large commercial passenger yachts carrying more than 12 passengers.
The PYC has been made applicable to passenger yachts:
- carrying more than 12 passengers and not more than 26 passengers;
- carrying a total of no more than 200 people;
- who do not transport goods; and
- who make international trips.
The PYC defines a “passenger” as comprising
“Any person other than:
- the master and members of the crew or other persons employed or engaged in any capacity on board a ship in the operation of that ship; and,
- a child under one year old. “
The PYC also provides guidelines for the static charter of passenger yachts, for example in cases where the passenger yacht will remain static; Moored or anchored at sea, the yacht may be authorized to carry more than 36 passengers. In order for a passenger yacht to be chartered on a static basis, the yacht would need to receive a declaration from the flag authority, authorizing static charters on board.
The PYC does not apply:
- commercial yachts carrying 12 passengers or less (the Malta Commercial Yacht Code applies in this case);
- passenger commercial / cruise ships engaged exclusively in inland navigation;
- passenger commercial / cruise ships carrying more than 36 passengers;
- ships carrying passengers;
- military ships;
- vessels owned by the State and used for non-commercial purposes;
- pleasure craft and yachts not used for commercial purposes;
- fishing boats;
- ships owned or operated on non-commercial services; and
- Passenger ships with a total number of people on board greater than 200 people.
Once the owners comply with the standards set out in the PYC; i.e. submitting the necessary documentation and carrying out the designated survey and inspections, the Maltese flag authorities would issue the vessel with a statutory certificate.
In addition, all passenger yachts must be classified by an RO and must maintain a valid classification for the entire period of validity of the yacht’s statutory certificate. The applicable RO rules for classification purposes are those used for the classification of passenger ships. Upon satisfactory completion of any required investigations or audits, the yacht RO will issue a certificate confirming compliance with the Malta PYC.
Passenger yachts certified under the PYC can perform international voyages (unrestricted) or short international voyages, as defined by SOLAS.
It should be noted that existing commercial yachts registered under the Maltese flag can be converted to passenger yachts provided that they meet all the requirements of the PYC and the conventions applicable on passenger ships.
The introduction of the PYC is undoubtedly a welcome development for those wishing to register larger commercial yachts under the Maltese flag, as it addresses many of the technical issues and concerns that entered applicants previously faced.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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