Ships Ranking Flag States from Best to Worst: Paris MoU Updates ‘White, Grey and Black List’

The Paris MoU has approved its 2020 “White, Grey, and Black” lists for flag state performance.

The Paris MoU’s annual “White, Grey and Black (WGB) List” ranks flag states from best to worst based on port state control inspections at ports in the North Atlantic basin from Canada to coastal Europe. The ranking assigns an “excess factor” using the total number of inspections and detentions over a 3-year rolling period for flags with at least 30 inspections during the period.

The new “White, Grey and Black List” for 2020, which will take effect from 1 July 2021, is used to calculate an individual Ship Risk Profile. Typically, flags on the Grey List and Black List are subject to more stringent banning measures, with Black being the worst. The “White, Grey and Black List” for 2020 includes a total of 70 flags, the same number as the list in 2019, including 39 on the White List, 22 on the Grey List and 9 on the Black List. This compares 16 on the White List, 16 on the Grey List and 13 on the Black List in 2019.

Looking at the top three states with the most inspections, Panama, with over 5,700 inspections during the three-year period, comes in at number 38, just barely making the White List. Marshall Islands, with over 4,200 inspections, is ranked a high on the White List at number 3, while Malta comes in at number 14 with over 4,100 inspections. Liberia trails closely with 4,017 inspections and a rank of 12.

Topping the list overall is Denmark and Norway, respectively. The United States comes in at number 33.

For several years the Paris MoU has also been monitoring and ranking “Recognized Organizations (ROs),” such as classification societies and ship registries. The list uses the same excess factor formula for ROs with a minimum number of 60 inspections. In 2020, 32 ROs were recorded on the performance list.

Rounding out the top 5 are the American Bureau of Shipping, DNV, Lloyds Register, ClassNK and Bureau Veritas. Among the 369 ship detentions recorded in Paris MoU ports in 2020, 37 (10%) were considered RO-related (compared to 15% in 2019).

The Paris MoU consists of 27 participating maritime Administrations and covers the waters of the European coastal States and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe. Its mission is to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships through a “harmonized system” of port State control. Each year, more than more than 17,000 individual inspections take place on board foreign ships in the Paris MoU ports ensuring they meet international safety, security and environmental standards, and that crew members have adequate living and working conditions.

The current member States of the Paris MoU are:

Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Top 10 on White List for 2020:
1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Marshall Islands
4. Bermuda (UK)
5. Netherlands
6. Bahamas
7. Greece
8. Singapore
9. Cayman Islands (UK)
10. Japan

Black List for 2020
Sierra Leone
Tanzania, United Republic of
Moldova, Republic of


Mr Mike Schuler