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27.3°C clear sky

clear sky

Time Zones:

New York

Malta

Shanghai

" Serving the world...

...from Malta "

GM International Services celebrates 45 years

13 / 05 / 22

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Friday the 13th is regarded by many as a day to be wary of. This is not so for GM International Services Limited, or its founder and CEO, John A. Gauci-Maistre, K.M. . This is because on Friday 13th May, 2022, GM International Services Limited is celebrating 45 years since its first vessel registration under the Malta flag, which was also a Friday the 13thMay in 1977.

Over these last 45 years, the company has become synonymous with the international maritime industry and holds the accolade of pioneers of ship and yacht registrations under the Malta flag.

These first 2 registrations, followed by a cargo vessel in 1978 for Thenamaris Ship Management, turned out to be the beginning of a journey that led the company to these 45 years, and counting. This wonderful journey has resulted in the registration of over 2000 vessels, and some 75 million tons under the Malta flag.

Affectionately dubbed “Mr Malta” by Fairplay’s Paul Gunton in 1999, Gauci-Maistre is a ‘household’ name in the ship and yacht registration industry. In 1973, when the Merchant Shipping Act was approved, Gauci-Maistre was quick to realise the potential of this “young flag”. With his natural understanding of Malta’s Merchant Marine Act and sharp commercial instinct, he began to attend every shipping event he could manage regardless of its location on the globe. His presence at events became so ubiquitous that his absence would be standout like a sore thumb.

Singlehandedly promoting this juvenile flag, Gauci-Maistre quickly showed he was no novice at customer service. Having previously run a hotel, had experience stock-broking and auditing firms in the UK, and also started the cash-discount card Economicard – a novelty in Europe in the 1970s – Gauci-Maistre firmly believed that client relations and word of mouth were the make or break of any company’s success story. “From the moment I was approached to register a vessel, I would immediately visualise the ship as my own. I would approach the process of registration with utmost dedication, giving attention to every detail, and pardon the pun, making sure everything was in ship-shape condition and above-board”, he says proudly. “Every ship owner, manager and lawyer would not be left in peace until I had ensured that all the requirements pertinent to the registration were duly obtained.”

Reputation is everything. “I was present at a conference in New York, in 1987 if memory serves, where several speakers were criticising the Malta flag. The narrative was that too many Malta-Flagged vessels had sustained casualty during the previous year. As it were, it was incredibly fortunate that I was present that day! The cause of this high incidence was related to the inopportune fact that these vessels had been casualties of the Iran-Iraq war. Had I not been at the conference, tirelessly explaining this almost ad nauseum, the narrative would have remained pejorative.”

The moniker “Mr Malta” was further entrenched in 1991 when the Malta Maritime Authority was created. Gauci-Maistre was the only person appointed to the advisory committee who was not a lawyer. In fact, he was instrumental in the changes to policy in relation to the merchant shipping company structure, Flag State Inspections, and the introduction of foreign-owned vessels under the Malta Maritime Flag. In 2008, Shipping International lauded him with the accolade “the one who put Malta on the world shipping map”.

Still firmly grounded in his belief that “it is the ship that makes the flag and not vice versa”, Gauci-Maistre always believes more progress can be made, no matter how far things have already come. “Malta is regarded as a strong and safe maritime jurisdiction, but this did not happen overnight. It was a duty to always ensure that ships with poor detention or other unfavourable records were not allowed to operate under the Malta flag. The onus remains on every single person involved in the registration process to ensure that the bar is never lowered. The goalposts are always changing. The pandemic, geopolitical issues, digitisation, decarbonisation – all of these will keep challenging the industry, and the challenges will keep coming. We can never afford to rest on our laurels. The registry must always remain avant-garde, ensuring all sectors of the maritime industry remain reputable, and even more important, desirable. One cannot but commend the sterling work done by Transport Malta and all the Ministers of Transport over the years, for their untiring contribution to ensure the Malta registry has become what it is today.”

Never one to shy away from telling it as he sees it, Gauci-Maistre was outspoken about concerns regarding Malta’s accession to the EU, and subsequently the investigation (with eventual green light) of Malta’s tonnage tax system. He says, “I am pro-EU and have always been. When asked about my views back then, I always maintained that we must do what is best for our country and not personal gain. There were concerns that the European Union would not look favourably on an open register, and this would have been to the detriment of the flag in general and, of course, to the local service providers. However, the flag proved itself to be resilient and today Malta is able to boast being the largest registry in Europe and the sixth-largest in the world. I am humbled to have been a part of this amazing accomplishment from the earliest of day.”

“Malta has also been very fortunate that one sector all political parties have found common ground on is the maritime sector”, he says. “I have been fortunate enough to always be able to keep good relations with successive governments.  

This attitude was also a great platform to be able to launch yet another brain-child and long-standing wish: The Malta Maritime Summit. Gauci-Maistre had long felt that Malta was being undercut by not hosting maritime conferences. “Afterall Malta is an international player in the industry, and is perfectly situated to provide a platform for heated yet constructive debate on the most pertinent issues challenging the maritime industry in that period.” Despite Malta being an international player, there always appeared to be a lack of volition toward boosting the Malta-Flag from a Malta platform. So, in 2016, Gauci-Maistre was pleasantly surprised when he was approached specifically to get this particular ball rolling, and the first Malta Maritime Summit was held during Malta Maritime Week, in full collaboration with Transport Malta and the Ministry of Transport. A clear success, it is ranked amongst the top three industry events in southern Europe, and, after a break brought on by the global pandemic, will this year be holding its third edition.

Gauci-Maistre looks to the future with the same enthusiasm he felt 45 years ago, noting that, in life and in shipping, “there is always a new challenge to look forward to”.

GM International Services celebrates 45 years

13 / 05 / 22

Share Article on 

Friday the 13th is regarded by many as a day to be wary of. This is not so for GM International Services Limited, or its founder and CEO, John A. Gauci-Maistre, K.M. . This is because on Friday 13th May, 2022, GM International Services Limited is celebrating 45 years since its first vessel registration under the Malta flag, which was also a Friday the 13thMay in 1977.

Over these last 45 years, the company has become synonymous with the international maritime industry and holds the accolade of pioneers of ship and yacht registrations under the Malta flag.

These first 2 registrations, followed by a cargo vessel in 1978 for Thenamaris Ship Management, turned out to be the beginning of a journey that led the company to these 45 years, and counting. This wonderful journey has resulted in the registration of over 2000 vessels, and some 75 million tons under the Malta flag.

Affectionately dubbed “Mr Malta” by Fairplay’s Paul Gunton in 1999, Gauci-Maistre is a ‘household’ name in the ship and yacht registration industry. In 1973, when the Merchant Shipping Act was approved, Gauci-Maistre was quick to realise the potential of this “young flag”. With his natural understanding of Malta’s Merchant Marine Act and sharp commercial instinct, he began to attend every shipping event he could manage regardless of its location on the globe. His presence at events became so ubiquitous that his absence would be standout like a sore thumb.

Singlehandedly promoting this juvenile flag, Gauci-Maistre quickly showed he was no novice at customer service. Having previously run a hotel, had experience stock-broking and auditing firms in the UK, and also started the cash-discount card Economicard – a novelty in Europe in the 1970s – Gauci-Maistre firmly believed that client relations and word of mouth were the make or break of any company’s success story. “From the moment I was approached to register a vessel, I would immediately visualise the ship as my own. I would approach the process of registration with utmost dedication, giving attention to every detail, and pardon the pun, making sure everything was in ship-shape condition and above-board”, he says proudly. “Every ship owner, manager and lawyer would not be left in peace until I had ensured that all the requirements pertinent to the registration were duly obtained.”

Reputation is everything. “I was present at a conference in New York, in 1987 if memory serves, where several speakers were criticising the Malta flag. The narrative was that too many Malta-Flagged vessels had sustained casualty during the previous year. As it were, it was incredibly fortunate that I was present that day! The cause of this high incidence was related to the inopportune fact that these vessels had been casualties of the Iran-Iraq war. Had I not been at the conference, tirelessly explaining this almost ad nauseum, the narrative would have remained pejorative.”

The moniker “Mr Malta” was further entrenched in 1991 when the Malta Maritime Authority was created. Gauci-Maistre was the only person appointed to the advisory committee who was not a lawyer. In fact, he was instrumental in the changes to policy in relation to the merchant shipping company structure, Flag State Inspections, and the introduction of foreign-owned vessels under the Malta Maritime Flag. In 2008, Shipping International lauded him with the accolade “the one who put Malta on the world shipping map”.

Still firmly grounded in his belief that “it is the ship that makes the flag and not vice versa”, Gauci-Maistre always believes more progress can be made, no matter how far things have already come. “Malta is regarded as a strong and safe maritime jurisdiction, but this did not happen overnight. It was a duty to always ensure that ships with poor detention or other unfavourable records were not allowed to operate under the Malta flag. The onus remains on every single person involved in the registration process to ensure that the bar is never lowered. The goalposts are always changing. The pandemic, geopolitical issues, digitisation, decarbonisation – all of these will keep challenging the industry, and the challenges will keep coming. We can never afford to rest on our laurels. The registry must always remain avant-garde, ensuring all sectors of the maritime industry remain reputable, and even more important, desirable. One cannot but commend the sterling work done by Transport Malta and all the Ministers of Transport over the years, for their untiring contribution to ensure the Malta registry has become what it is today.”

Never one to shy away from telling it as he sees it, Gauci-Maistre was outspoken about concerns regarding Malta’s accession to the EU, and subsequently the investigation (with eventual green light) of Malta’s tonnage tax system. He says, “I am pro-EU and have always been. When asked about my views back then, I always maintained that we must do what is best for our country and not personal gain. There were concerns that the European Union would not look favourably on an open register, and this would have been to the detriment of the flag in general and, of course, to the local service providers. However, the flag proved itself to be resilient and today Malta is able to boast being the largest registry in Europe and the sixth-largest in the world. I am humbled to have been a part of this amazing accomplishment from the earliest of day.”

“Malta has also been very fortunate that one sector all political parties have found common ground on is the maritime sector”, he says. “I have been fortunate enough to always be able to keep good relations with successive governments.  

This attitude was also a great platform to be able to launch yet another brain-child and long-standing wish: The Malta Maritime Summit. Gauci-Maistre had long felt that Malta was being undercut by not hosting maritime conferences. “Afterall Malta is an international player in the industry, and is perfectly situated to provide a platform for heated yet constructive debate on the most pertinent issues challenging the maritime industry in that period.” Despite Malta being an international player, there always appeared to be a lack of volition toward boosting the Malta-Flag from a Malta platform. So, in 2016, Gauci-Maistre was pleasantly surprised when he was approached specifically to get this particular ball rolling, and the first Malta Maritime Summit was held during Malta Maritime Week, in full collaboration with Transport Malta and the Ministry of Transport. A clear success, it is ranked amongst the top three industry events in southern Europe, and, after a break brought on by the global pandemic, will this year be holding its third edition.

Gauci-Maistre looks to the future with the same enthusiasm he felt 45 years ago, noting that, in life and in shipping, “there is always a new challenge to look forward to”.