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Cyprus joins the International Propeller Club of the United States (pics)

With the main objective of strengthening maritime cooperation between the United States and Cyprus, the island is now part of the largest international business network for maritime professionals through the creation of the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Limassol.

The opening ceremony of the establishment of the Propeller Club Limassol, held in the presence of the Ministers of Energy, Commerce and Industry, the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, the Attorney General and members of the shipping industry, was addressed by the US Ambassador, Julie Fisher, who in line with the network's statute, bears the title of Honourary President.

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"This is really an important day for Cyprus, an important day for the USA and the shipping industry here," Fisher said, adding that "I am thrilled to see the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Limassol, now a reality, and part of Limassol's thriving shipping community and I couldn’t be more delighted to serve as the honorary President."

She explained that since 1922, the US Propeller Club has served as an international business network for maritime professionals worldwide, dedicated to promoting the shipping industry, commerce, and global trade –and ties with the United States, adding that there are over 80 Propeller Club branches, or ports around the world. "The club in Limassol is the 30th port located outside the United States," she noted.

"We at the Embassy share the club's objectives of encouraging closer maritime cooperation, particularly between the United States and Cyprus, promoting members' entrepreneurial, cultural, and social interests, and facilitating exchanges between the two countries, including with the American Coast Guard," Fisher added.

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The Ambassador went on to say that "we recognise just how important this industry is in Cyprus with the eleventh largest ship registry in the world."

"Many owners and companies of Cypriot- flagged ships, some of them under Mr. (Polys) Hajioannou's able leadership, already form the core of this new club. I am certain the membership will grow in the months and years ahead, I really look forward to seeing how this club develops," she said.

Fisher also referred to the challenges to the shipping industry, which, as she noted, "abound", and gave the example of the attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea "which is in the top of our list."

The Red Sea, she said, "is a vital waterway, with 15% of global commerce transiting it. In the first three months of 2024, over 4,500 cargo ships transited the Red Sea, despite threats of attacks from Houthis."

"I am proud to say that Operation Prosperity Guardian, the US-led coalition of more than 20 countries, continues to provide our warships, our vessels and other assets to protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea," she added.

Finally, Julie Fisher said that it was an honour for her to serve the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port Limassol as Honourary President and gave assurances of her full support, while expressing her expectation for further development of Cypriot shipping and strengthening of ties between the two countries.

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The event was also addressed by the President of the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Limassol, Polys Hajioannou, who referred to the prospects that are opening up for Cypriot shipping and invited the local shipping community to join the club and become a member of an international network with close ties with the US and the US Coast Guard.

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In his address, Hajioannou said, "I am very proud that after so many years the Propeller Club is up and active following its mission to promote the relationship between Cyprus and the United States in the Maritime Sector and offer networking to all its members internationally."

He went on to explain that a group of about 50 people met last year and became Founding Members of the Propeller Club, Port of Limassol and since then several other distinguished individuals have joined.

"The open invitation to the maritime community to participate is reflected in our website where each individual in the maritime industry can easily complete the form and become our member. The Propeller Club, Port of Limassol was created to bring together our shipping community under a different context. We have members who are also members of Cyprus Union of Shipowners like myself, or members of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, I see many of you, or members of other clubs such as the Cyprus Marine Club," Hajioannou continued.

"However our mission and what unites us in the Propeller Club is our strong belief of global cooperation and networking with the largest maritime network worldwide, the Propeller Club of the United States of America," he went on to underline.

As noted by Hajioannou in his address, Cyprus is a small country, with a big part of it occupied by the Turkish army for 50 years now, "Our aim should not be to stay in the condensed borders of our country, but to project ourselves and our community to the world."

"A personal example of cooperation with U.S. institutions, if I may be so bold to say so, is the listing of my own Safe Bulkers in the NYSE. Our legacy of transparency since 2008 has shown how we can compete not only in shipping, which is our business and we know it well, but also in creating synergies with much bigger companies than ours in the U.S. financial markets," he also noted.

Hajioannou went on to list other examples including the Cyprus Shipping Registry "which, after a lot of efforts by the Shipping Deputy Ministry is now steadily growing again its fleet, despite the deletion of Russian owned ships and closing of large shipping offices present in Cyprus for decades. Cyprus suffered but is rebuilding itself and we need strong allies to do that."

"Another example," he continued, "is the defiance of the Cyprus shipping community – all of you – to the Turkish embargo that prevents the trade of Cyprus flagged vessels in Turkish ports. These are matters where the Propeller Club network has a role to play in trying to help change mentalities for the benefit of free international trade."

"We are also very proud to see how our small country has recently been internationally praised for its Amalthia project, where Cyprus - supported by the United States - offers from its free port of Larnaca, much needed humanitarian aid by Sea to the Gaza people in need, through a series of shipments, when all land corridors are blocked," Hajioannou went on to say, before continuing, "We all know the USA has a big Geopolitical role to play in our area for years to come. In shipping we have noted the US government USD 200mil investment in Greek ship repairing facilities. We all know that PRC currently enjoys over 50pct of newbuild shipyard capacity and over 70pct of ship repair. Can the world rely on only one vendor for its Shiprepairing and Shipbuilding? We strongly believe that all together united, in the global dimension that our Club offers can join forces and be able to contribute to its goal."

Hajioannou concluded with an invitation to "the entire Cyprus shipping community to participate in our Club and be part of this international network with close ties with the United States and the United States Coast Guard."

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Costis Frangoulis, President of the International Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus the largest Propeller Club in terms of members, also expressed his joy on the creation of the Propeller Club, Port of Limassol and pinned the club's official badge on Hajioannou’s lapel, also handing him a relevant certificate.

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