Ship Finance

More new build LNG carriers join the Malta flag

Fenech & Fenech Marine Services Ltd are delighted to have assisted with the reflagging of a series of four 174,000 cbm new build LNG carrier vessels to the Malta flag. These vessels are not only a contribution to the Malta flag in terms of tonnage but also a clear reflection of clients’ confidence in the flag’s technical capabilities with respect to such sophisticated vessels.


The Ship Finance team within Fenech & Fenech Advocates are proud to have also assisted with the financing aspect of this transaction.


We look forward to continue to support owners and managers with all their Malta flag related requirements.


For further information on Malta flag registration matters please contact Rowena Grima or Stephanie Farrugia at Fenech & Fenech Marine Services Ltd by telephone (+356 2124 1232) or email ( and )

Delivery of MSC VIRTUOSA – FFMS handle the ship’s registration under the Malta flag

Author: Stephanie Farrugia, Associate

On 1st February 2021, MSC Cruises took delivery of the MSC VIRTUOSA from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique Shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France. Our team at Fenech & Fenech Marine Services Ltd have assisted with the vessel’s registration under the Malta flag, thus contributing over 180,000 tonnes to the total tonnage in our local Registry.

As a sister ship to the current flagship MSC Grandiosa, for which our team handled the Maltese flag registration in 2019, the MSC VIRTUOSA is the first MSC Cruise ship to be launched in 2021 and shall come into service for the summer season later on this year, commencing with itineraries in the Mediterranean.

MSC VIRTUOSA is a beautiful modern vessel that has been built with the most advanced technology that is currently available in the shipping industry, with environmental protection and the health and safety of its passengers as high priorities.

Amongst other features, the vessel is equipped with shore to ship power connectivity allowing it to connect to local power grids while at ports where the required infrastructure is available. This will in fact be possible in Malta by the end of 2023 with the Grand Harbour Clean Air Project scheduled to have its first phase completed by then. The vessel also features hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) and Selective Catalytic Reduction Systems (SCR) both of which help reduce air polluting emissions.

Furthermore, MSC VIRTUOSA is the first ship worldwide to receive a BIORISK SECURED notation by Class Bureau Veritas due to her ability to mitigate and manage infectious disease risk for passengers and crew, having appropriate operational and design responses, equipment and policies in place. This is very significant considering the challenging pandemic situation the world still finds itself in.

The Ship Finance team at Fenech & Fenech Advocates was also engaged by the financing banks to assist with the Maltese aspects and documentation relating to the financing side of the vessel’s delivery.

For further information on ship registration under the Malta flag or ship finance related matters please contact Rowena Grima ( or Stephanie Farrugia ( or Lara Saguna Axiaq (

Ship Finance and Cruiseliners: Eight months into the pandemic

Dr. Peter Grima’s latest article titled ‘Ship Finance and Cruiseliners: eight months into the pandemic’ was published in today’s edition of the Times of Malta newspaper. The article explores the Covid-19 environment that has had a debilitating effect on the cruiseline industry, as well as the reaction of the industry to stem the haemorrhaging and its future prospects.


Ship Finance FAQs

FAQs related to general security options, rights and obligations of lenders and other formalities typically found in ship finance transactions over Malta flagged vessels.

What security options does Maltese shipping law provide?

The Merchant Shipping Act (Chapter 234 of the Laws of Malta) maintains that a debt or other obligation may be secured either by agreement or by operation of law and provides for three forms of security:

  1. General Hypothecs;
  2. Special Privileges; and
  3. Mortgages.
What is the main security used in ship finance transactions involving Malta flagged vessels?

The ship mortgage and collateral deed of covenants are the principal forms of security granted over a Malta flagged vessel to secure any debt or other obligation. The registered mortgage is considered an executive title and therefore immediately enforceable upon tendering notice of default and for this reason is considered the most attractive security available to a lender.

Additional security that may form part of the security package would include share pledges, account pledges, personal or corporate guarantees and assignments of earnings, insurances and requisition compensation.

What are the main formalities for the constitution of the Maltese ship mortgage?

Formalities would include the drafting and registration of the ship mortgage before the Registrar of Ships. The mortgage is to be drawn up in the English language and within the statutory form prescribed by law and recognised by the Malta Ship Registry.

How is the ranking of mortgagees determined?

Ranking is determined according to the time and date of registration of the mortgage instrument at the Malta Ship Registry, which is confirmed by the Registrar of Ships upon the delivery of instructions to register the mortgage.

Is information at the Maltese Ship Registry available to the public?

The Ship Registry is a public registry and freely accessible to the general public. The Ship Registry is not however a remotely accessible registry and therefore information may only be obtained through physical searches conducted at the offices of the Merchant Shipping Directorate within Transport Malta or through ordering a Transcript of Register of the particular vessel.

Does the deed of covenants need to be registered?

A deed of covenants collateral to a mortgage, whether governed by Maltese law or non-Maltese law, is not registrable. The Ship Registry does however accept the registration of an irrevocable power of attorney granted in favour of a mortgagee which is usually contained as an annex to the deed of covenants.

The benefit of registration of the irrevocable power of attorney is that it can allow for swifter enforcement in cases of default.

What are the benefits of a Maltese ship mortgage towards financiers?

There are several benefits to a Maltese ship mortgage, principal amongst which is that a mortgage is deemed to be an executive title at law, rendering the mortgage immediately enforceable without the need for any judicial proceedings. Other benefits would include the power of the mortgagee to prohibit the creation of any further mortgages, as well as to prohibit the transfer of ownership or the deletion of the vessel without the prior written consent of the mortgagee.

What are the instances in which a registered mortgage would need to be amended?

With some exceptions, there are two instances in which a registered mortgage would need to be amended in the interests of the lender:

  • where there is an increase in the amount of capital secured by the registered mortgage, which would not include any agreement to amend the rates of interest payable or the modalities for the calculation of interest; and
  • where the mortgage is to extend to secure any other obligation of the mortgage whether as principal debtor or as surety for any other person, in favour of the mortgagee.

Registration of an amendment mortgage for any other reason is optional.

What are the rights of the mortgagee under the registered mortgage and collateral deed of covenants?

Upon giving notice of default, the mortgagee is granted several avenues to enforce its claims, which would include the rights of the mortgagee to:

  • take possession of the mortgaged vessel;
  • seek the private sale of the mortgaged vessel;
  • demand a judicial sale by auction of the vessel in Malta; and
  • request the court to approve a private sale of the vessel.
Fenech and Fenech at the ELSA Webinars Academy on Maritime law

Alison Vassallo , Partner and Head of our Yachting Department and Peter Grima, Associate within our Ship Finance Department delivered lectures on Laws and Procedures affecting Yachting and the Law on Ship Finance during yesterday’s session of the ELSA Maritime Law Academy.

Fenech and Fenech is proud to have once again supported this professionally organized event and congratulate both the organisers and participants for succeeding in maintaining the high level of quality of the annual Summer Maritime law school in its online format.

Fenech & Fenech Webinars: The Malta Shipping Update

The Malta Shipping Update Webinar, held on the 5th June 2020, brought together professionals within our Marine Litigation, Ship Registration, Ship Finance and Yachting Departments to provide viewers with topical updates on a cross section of shipping subjects.  Moderated by Associate Martina Farrugia, the webinar covered ‘The Challenges faced by ship owners when saving lives in the Mediterranean’  by Managing Partner Ann Fenech, ‘Overcoming challenges posed by COVID-19 to Malta Flagged vessels’ by Senior Associate Lara Saguna Axiaq, ‘Recent Developments in the Yachting Sector in Malta’ by Partner Alison Vassallo, ‘Insight into the Latest Developments in Ship Finance in recent months’ by Associate Peter Grima and ‘The effects of Covid-19 on Dispute Resolution in Malta’ by Partner Adrian Attard.

The full webinar may be viewed here.

Fenech & Fenech Advocates attended the 11th Annual Marine Money London Ship Finance Forum

Adrian Attard and Peter Grima recently attended the 11th Annual Marine Money London Forum held on 22 January 2020 at The Dorchester. The annual forum brought together leading stakeholders in the shipping industry with the main themes focused on the environmental aspects of shipping and trade and the growing market trends and dynamics that are predicated to shape the shipping industry in the new decade.