H4 Maritime is able to offer services in a range of areas including:


The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 came into force in 2013. Implementing it properly is not easy as it must be fully incorporated into national law and most national law systems already have long standing provisions in primary legislation for seafarer's welfare that usually needs to be amended, removed or replaced to make the MLC work effectively.

With unparalled experience in making the conventions work in practice, in law drafting, and having been a participant in making the MLC, H4 Maritime can ensure that your administration is giving it full effect and making it work effectively.

IMO audits

The new system of mandatory IMO audits is now in place. Member states in their port state role, coastal state role and flag state roles are expected to comply with the standards in the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) as well as those in the Recognised Organisations Code (RO Code). Both these Codes are fully incorporated into the IMO maritime conventions now and are mandatory for member states. With experience in III Code preparation, and in actual audits H4 is well placed to assist in moving towards full III Code compliance, and in preparation for the actual audit to ensure a satisfactory outcome.


Every flag state that issues seafarer documents (whether certificates or endorsements) or which is involved in seafarer training, is required by the STCW Convention to submit a five yearly independent evaluation of its systems. (STCW Regulation I/8). H4 is fully accredited to conduct such evaluations and is an ideal partner to do so.

In 2020 the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee will consider the report of the last HTW Sub-committee meeting. That report notes that the STCW "white list" has never been reviewed and proposes that it should be. The report also includes a revised white list with all the countries that have not submitted their evaluations removed from it.

This may well bring some negative publicity for flags that are dropped from the white list.

RO audits

The RO Code requires that flag states conduct evaluations and monitoring of the performance of organisations it has authorised to do work on its behalf. ROs are the essential front line in the business of ship inspections, ship surveys and the issue of certificates, so their role is crucial in maintaining flag state standards.

Doing the audits and monitoring the organisations is time consuming and requires skilled technical resources. H4 is available to conduct independent audits and evaluations in accordance with the RO Code on your ROs and report back so that you can take any necessary action and also show that the flag state obligations in the Code are met.

Registry training

The practice of ship registry and the relationships between types of registry, and the essentials of verifying documentation and understanding international norms are often learned on a "watch and learn" basis, based on what are very often outdated regulations. Captain Howell has considerable experience in the practice of ship registry and an unrivalled knowledge of fhe public international law aspects of the process.

He has just published a book on the subject. See: Ship Registry in Practice

Captain Howell can offer registry staff training in all aspects tailored to suit the flag state's own regulations and can assist in modernising those regulations where necessary.

IT Solutions

The standards in the III Code as well as the expectations of the IMO and the responsibilities laid on administrations by the conventions mean that there is an inescapable need for effective record keeping as well as a means to extract statistics and data from records.

The data and statistics allow administrations to demonstrate that the oversight expected of maritime administrations is being achieved. From the absolute requirement for record keeping, to the complexities of the CSR and the need to manage inspections and inspectors, as well as to feed registry data into the IHS Fairplay system, it is now clear that only an integrated electronic system can be effective. Such a system can extract the statistical data needed to demonstrate the obligations laid on administrations by the III Code and provide, for example, for fully compliant electronic certificates.

There are some commercial systems available, and they are certainly good. They are generally subscription based systems and they can be expensive on a monthly ongoing basis. They also have the disadvantage that once in use it can be hard to make a change if costs escalate, and there is usually no certainty that this will not happen.

The alternative is to develop a bespoke system using chosen developers which is wholly owned and based within jurisdication. This approach can work well but it is totally dependant on developing a very clear and precise specification from which the developers can work.

Experience shows that without this very clear specification written by someone who knows both the intricacies of the administration's responsibilities and the conventions and the registry business and who has a clear understanding of the future needs, as well as the legal boundaries that must constrain the system, the approach can be expensive and with results that disappoint.

Captain Howell was the technical consultant behind both of the leading commercial systems in the market today and has also headed the development of another bespoke system for a major flag state. There are no other professionals with this level of expertise in specifying such systems and ensuring that the end result is exactly what the administration needs and expects.

For any flag administration planning to create an effective electronic system to meet their present and future needs and demonstrate compliance, then the starting point must be a sound specification. Captain Howell has the expertise and experience to assist in the preparation of such specifications. With the right specification the developers can start with a clear goal in view and then the high costs of change and redevelopment can be avoided.

IT solutions