SEA-LAND Service has received approval from the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) to re-flag five US-flagged vessels under the registry of the Marshall Islands. 'Sea-Land appreciates MARAD's decision and we will now move ahead with this process,' said Sea-Land chief executive officer John Clancey. The carrier planned to complete the re-flagging within three months, he said. All five carriers now operate highly competitive services between ports in foreign countries. Three of the ships, Sea-Land Price, Sea-Land Value and Sea-Land Motivator, operate Sea-Land's Asia-Middle East-Europe service. The other two vessels, Sea-Land Freedom and Sea-Land Mariner, operate on the company's Asia-Europe express route. Sea-Land said the five ships would be managed by Intersea Operations Ltd and would be operated and maintained to the highest industry standards. The new crews would complete comprehensive training in operating procedures before assuming command of the vessels, the company said. Sea-Land, the largest US-flagged ocean carrier, applied in June 1993 to re-flag 13 of its US-flagged ships. Those applications had been held in abeyance while the 103rd US Congress considered maritime reform legislation designed to alleviate the higher costs imposed on US-flagged vessel operators by US laws. When the legislation failed to pass Congress last Autumn, Sea-Land asked MARAD to speed the approval of five applications. Mr Clancey said: 'Sea-Land was very disappointed that maritime reform legislation was not passed last year. 'For four years, a united US maritime industry has worked hard for a reform programme that would preserve US-flagged merchant marine capabilities and effectively serve America's commercial requirements and protect its defence interests. Because the 102nd and 103rd Congress sessions failed to enact such legislation, Sea-Land had to take the necessary steps to remain competitive, Mr Clancey said. 'At the same time we remain committed to working closely with the administration, the 104th Congress and the entire industry to gain approval of reform legislation this year. 'An effective Maritime Security Programme enacted this year would guarantee our country's modern, efficient US-flagged, US-crewed merchant marine for the 21st century.' Sea-Land operates more than 90 container ships and serves 120 ports in 80 countries and territories.