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A journey through the The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry's History

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman

As the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry celebrates its 110th anniversary, it is useful to look back and examine its beginnings, its milestones and its progress so that more accurate plans can be made for the future.  The Cayman Islands has a strong history in seafaring and shipbuilding and has taken this heritage and translated it into the development and operation of a modern, world class, international registry, with the vision of growing as an international shipping centre.  

Seafaring was one of the main driving forces in the development and civilisation of the Cayman Islands.  As the world’s goods were transported by almost exclusively by ship (to a great extent this remains true), Cayman as an island state was readily opened to the shipping industry and to international trade, initially by enabling the export of turtle meat and thatch rope.   

The Shipping Registry opened its doors in 1903, ready to register its first vessel, which was the El Paso, a 54 gross register ton (GRT) ship built in Roatan, Honduras by the Cooper brothers.  From this humble beginning, more than 1,955 ships now proudly carry the Cayman flag, with a gross weight of more than 3.97 million GRT.   This history has all been immaculately preserved, as all of the original documents have been retained, including those of the registering of the El Paso.

Alongside a budding shipping registry, Cayman was establishing itself as a nation of shipbuilders.  The Lady Slater was built in 1935 by James Arch in George Town and although the pieces were in place to develop this industry further, the resource limitations inflicted by the onset of World War II prevented its growth.  After the war, many Caymanian men went to work on the merchant ships to provide for their families.  In the new superyacht era, where Cayman is one of the world’s top three registries for superyachts, and has a cadre of highly experienced surveyors and technicians, it is interesting to think about the shipbuilding industry returning to these shores.

In 1991, Cayman was recognised as a Category 1 British Registry, making it possible to register any type or size of vessel.  The responsive and personal attention of the professionals of the Registry has contributed to the outstanding reputation and international recognition for the highest quality ships.  This has led to commercial vessels registered in Cayman to continue to attract the best global shipping partners while serving the world’s finest shipping conglomerates.  With employees and representatives in the United Kingdom, USA, France, Japan, Holland, Greece, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry upholds and actively promotes the stellar reputation of the Cayman Islands.

Today, seafaring has transitioned from working on the decks of ships to an industry of maritime administration with limitless opportunities for Cayman – especially when one considers the technological advances, the resources of the sea including deep sea mining, increasing regulatory requirements and standards, and environmental issues.  The maritime business continues to boom through ever-developing areas such as ship finance, marine insurance and admiralty law, and Cayman remains proud of its position in this industry and has aspirations of growing this sector that is so firmly ingrained in the culture and lifestyle of this island nation.


For further information contact: Corporate Communications