Panama Maritime Authority: crew changes, COVID-19, office in Ukraine

At the end of 2020, the Panama Maritime Authority, the leader in the number of vessels registered under its flag, opened an official representative office in Ukraine, namely in Odessa. Juan Maltez, the Director of the General Directorate of Seafarers of Panama Maritime Authority, and Evgeniy Sukachev, the Head of the office of Panama Maritime Authority in Ukraine, talk about crew change issues, the benefits of the Panamanian flag and cooperation between the Panama Maritime Authority and Ukraine.

Prepared by Black Sea Law Company and the Auxiliary Registrar Office of Panama Maritime Authority in Ukraine.

The Panama Maritime Authority is the Maritime Administration with the largest registered fleet of flagged vessels amongst nations of the world. In 2021, 8,653 ships with a tonnage of 237,600 gross tons are registered under Panamanian flag, representing 16% of the world’s fleet.

At present, the Panama Maritime Authority maintains a presence worldwide through its 53 merchant marine consulates where shipping services are provided, such as registration of vessels, ownership changes, mortgages and discharges, deletions, and of course, all the Seafarers Certifications. Panama also has 4 Auxiliar Registry Offices known as ORA dedicated to Seafarer’s documentation, and 14 international Safety offices.

Ukraine is a Country with huge Maritime history and potential at the world Maritime business market, as an agricultural and mineral resources trading center, well as a nation with more than 150,000 Ukrainian seafarers, who work mostly under foreign flag fleet.

There are a lot of manning offices, training centers, and specialized educational organizations in Ukraine, which develop this industry and make this sphere move forward.


In the end of 2020, the Panama Maritime Authority established representative official office in Odessa, Ukraine to provide all its services directly to all Shipowners and Seafarers in the Black Sea region in person.

About all these circumstances and news, we will talk with Captain Juan Maltez, the Director of the General Directorate of Seafarers of Panama Maritime Authority, and Evgeniy Sukachev, the Auxiliary Registrar of Panama Maritime Authority in Ukraine.

Captain Juan Maltez, the Director of the General Directorate of Seafarers visited Odessa with special mission and presented us his views about challenges of crew change in world crisis, advantages of Panamanian flag and cooperation between Panama Maritime Authority and Ukraine.

USM: As you are the Head of General Directorate of Seafarers in Panama Maritime Authority, is there an alternative for Ukrainian seafarers in such challengeable crisis regarding issuance of the maritime documents in Ukraine?

Capt. Juan Maltez: Training centers recognized by Panama Maritime Authority are entitled to provide certification and competence certificates to all Ukrainian seafarers. They are acting and proving in our name, they comply with all our requirements, law procedure and especially they comply with STCW and IMO regulations. In case something happens to the Ukrainian seafarers, the best way is to go to the maritime training centers, that are approved by Panama Maritime Authority. Because these training centers can issue certificates on behalf of Panama Maritime Authority. We can ensure that the Ukrainian seafarers will give the trainings in requirements with the IMO and STCW.

In this regard, it is important to mention that we conducted an audit of the Training Centre of Seafarers Avant Limited Liability Company, waiting to be accredited by the AMP.

Evgeniy Sukachev: Also, I would like to add that in August 2021 the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine issued a document that supports Ukrainian seafarers all over the world, who have documents that expired. Ministry of Infrastructure applied to Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim, with question and offered to extend these documents till 30th June 2022. This is good support from Ukrainian authorities to all Ukrainian seafarers who have invalid documents.

Capt. Juan Maltez: Yes, in this point, Panama was one of the first countries that supports seafarers before almost all the other countries regarding the pandemic of Covid-19. Panama did it till last June 2021. For one year and a half we were giving the extension for the Panamanian seafarers and for the ones who have the Panamanian licenses, too.

Captain Juan Maltez: Yes, at this point, Panama was one of the first countries pioneering and supporting seafarers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a sample of this was the humanitarian aid provided to the ships Zandam and Rotterdam, which was praised internationally, being a decisive action that managed to save the lives of the multiple nationalities’ passengers and crew of these ships.

We were also one of the first to apply in our registry all the recommendations given in the Circular Letter of the International Maritime Organization IMO No. 4204 / Add.14, regarding the prevailing need for safe crew changes and the protocols that established how to carry them out safely.

We also expressed our support in designating Seafarers as “Key Workers” in rendering invaluable service, amid this global pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), for the benefit of the global economy and the development of all of humankind since without trained merchant seafarers, goods could not be transported between continents, seafarers being one of the main links in the supply chain.

USM: Could you advise us where Ukrainian seafarers could apply for Panamanian documents in Ukraine?

Capt. Juan Maltez: We`ve opened Auxiliary Registrar Office, here, in Odessa last year. Ukrainian seafarers could apply to obtain their documents in Odessa and also through all consulates we have worldwide.

We have 53 private consulates of merchant marine, 4 Auxiliary Registrar Offices (ORA) and 14 International Offices that provide support to seafarers who work on the vessels of the Panama Ship Registry.

We have opened Auxiliary Registrar Office in Odessa to support Shipowners, Seafarers and other clients of PMA in Black Sea region and to be closer to all of them.

USM: In general, what are the benefits of the Panamanian documents for Ukrainian seafarers?

Capt. Juan Maltez: The benefits are that if you own a Panamanian license, you can be able to join vessels under Panamanian flag. We are really pro benefits in regards to the seafarers in compliance with the STCW certificates and, especially, with the MLC ones.

Evgeniy Sukachev: The Auxiliary Registrar Office of AMP has been opened for better communication and closer cooperation between AMP and the local customers of its services. We support anybody who needs any professional assistance or competent advice.

USM: What are the benefits for shipowners, yacht owners to register vessels under Panamanian flag?

Capt. Juan Maltez: Panama Ship Registry is the number one ship registry in the world since 1993, with 8653 vessels, that represent 16% of the Gross Tonnage of the world fleet. Panama leads in bulk cargo vessels registration. Panama-flagged bulk carriers represent 22% of entire world fleet. Furthermore, the Panamanian flag is the tenth most popular flag for chosen by cruise. Our registry is on White list of the Paris MoU and shipowner/yacht owners could rely on our protection and help 24/7. We have representatives and offices around the world ready to help them.

It is important to mention that Panama remains on the list of countries that give full and total effectiveness to the STCW´78 Convention, as amended (White List), promulgated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), after demonstrating the full and total effectiveness of the provisions relevant to the Convention.

This is tangible proof that the AMP, through the General Directorate of Seafarers (DGGM), continues to demonstrate faithful compliance with the provisions of International Conventions, which gives us strength and recognition that the personnel working aboard Panamanian flag vessels have the competence to carry out their duties.

USM: How serious is the crisis with crew change nowadays because of COVID-19 and what is the role of the Panama Maritime Authority in resolving this crisis?

Capt. Juan Maltez: The Panama Maritime Authority has been supporting the seafarers during the pandemic of COVID-19. We declare our seafarers as “Key Workers” on 17th of May 2020. Panama was one of the first countries that gave support to the IMO Circulars No. 4204 in regards of crew change and opened for the crew changes from March 2020 up to December 2020. More than 18, 000 crew changes and embarkations were carried out in Panama.

In addition to crew changes, requests for vessels belonging to the Panamanian Registry as well as those registered with other flags were processed, in cooperation with IMO member states, which required medical attention for seafarers, allowing their crew to disembark in our jurisdictional waters for care related to dental cases and prenatal controls, among others.

We have cooperation with our Minister of Health in Panama. All the Panamanian seafarers have been vaccinated and the Panama Maritime Authority will ensure that all rights. We are also dealing with Maritime Labor Department.

We solved more than 785 labor complains in the benefit of the seafarers. We recovered over last two years on our Administration more than USD 9.4 million in regards of pending salaries for crews that were in abandoned situation. We gave repatriation for almost 1,358 seafarers who have been abandoned on the ships of the shipowners under the Panama flag. We will make sure that the shipowners under Panama flag are very good shipowners. There are some of them that don`t want to let them comply with the MLC, 2006.

USM: In what situations Ukrainian seafarers could rely on the support of the Panama Maritime Authority? And what are the main advantages of obtaining Panama licenses for the seafarers?

Capt. Juan Maltez: In all situations. The Panama Maritime Authority provides support not only for seafarers who hold a Panamanian license, also for all Ukrainian seafarers and other nations. As I said before, we have more than 300 000 seafarers on board the Panamanian vessels. One period they are on board, the other period they are onshore. We need to be sure about the certifications, the trainings, the medical examinations. All their documents are in a compliance with IMO, STCW and MLC. At the moment we are on the “White List” of IMO. This is very important for the Panama Maritime Authority. That means that our license is on a good level. Nowadays, we are in the process of the recognition of the European countries. We are already in the process with the audience of the European Maritime Safety Agency. Next year we will be on the final stage that the Panama license will be recognized by the European Union.

Evgeniy Sukachev: In what ways the shipowners are getting the support of the Panama Maritime Authority?

Capt. Juan Maltez: In the same way as the seafarers are getting support. Our regional offices are giving support to the shipowners and the seafarers in regards to documentation questions. Our consulates, merchant marine consulates provide support. They are attending the seafarers as well as the shipowners. We as the Panama Maritime Authority, know that the worldwide trade of the ships is between 80% and 90%. The world needs ships to move, but ships cannot operate without seafarers. It is a good combination and good formula: “Shipowners need seafarers, seafarers need shipowners”. In this way, both parties are happy and we as a government in the middle make sure that this triangle works.

At this time, we are making the necessary internal adjustments, in preparation to have the scheduled audits that will be carried out in the future, including:

• External audit by the international certifier Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), as part of the recertification to the ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management System (QMS).

• Audit by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to all its Member States, to determine the degree to which these States are fully and effectively complying with the obligations and responsibilities contained in these Conventions, in 2022, and to maintain the Republic of Panama on the IMO “White List”, based on verification of the implementation and compliance with the STCW’78 Convention, as amended.

• Audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), in compliance with the Directive of the European Union No. 2008/106 / EC, as amended, and the International Convention on Standard of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping of Seafarers, as amended. (STCW’78, amended), with the purpose that the Republic of Panama can be accredited as a “Third Country” before the European Commission, which aims to achieve recognition of the qualifications of competence and the certificates of proficiency issued by the DGGM of the AMP, by the Maritime Administrations of the member countries of the European Union, which may translate into greater employment opportunities for our seafarers.

These audits will measure the degree of compliance with the obligations and responsibilities contained in both national and international Conventions, which we are signatories, as well as a requirement of the ISO 9001: 2015 Standard that establishes the responsibilities of the Quality Management System (SGC) in order to provide our users with a service with a high degree of efficiency and performance.



The Panama Maritime Authority collaborates with the International Maritime Organization to reaffirm the positioning of the Republic of Panama as a world leader in trade, commerce, transportation, logistics activities, services, industry expansion and maritime traffic to maximize the growth and sustainable economic development in the country.

The Panama Maritime Authority offers a broad range of services through its two most important Directorates: The General Directorate of Merchant Marine and The General Directorate of Seafarers.

AMP Auxiliary Registrar Office in Ukraine is an official representative of the Panama Maritime Authority in Ukraine. The office provides efficient and fast services 24/7/365. To read more information visit the website: and join Telegram Channel: