HONGKONG Ming Wah Shipping Co Ltd claims it registered its very large crude carrier (VLCC) on the Liberian register instead of the Hongkong register as the latter was closed at the time the vessel was delivered. Ming Wah's legal counsel Mr Lin Yuen-mun said as his company had to take delivery of the vessel at 8am from the Japanese shipyard, it was not possible to register her in the territory as the Hongkong register only opened at 9am. ''And the Hongkong register's fee is also much higher, about US$30,000 dearer every year,'' he said. But Mr Tsui Shung-yiu, assistant director of Marine, who is in charge of the Hongkong register, said although the register was open between 9am and 5pm, it could accept registration of a vessel outside its normal working hours if advance notice was given. He said special arrangements could be made for officials to be on standby to carry out the necessary procedures outside office hours as had been done in the past with other shipping companies. ''We will entertain any request from the industry if we are given advance notice and will have people to standby to process the registration,'' he said. Mr Tsui said although he had been in contact with Ming Wah officials, they had not raised a single issue regarding registration of the VLCC or any problems related to the fees. He described as ''incorrect'' Mr Lin's claim that his company would have to pay $30,000 annually if the VLCC was registered in Hongkong. Hongkong had capped its first registration fee for VLCCs at HK$100,000 and an annual fee of $180,000, Mr Tsui said. Mr Lin claimed that Ming Wah, which is a 100 per cent wholly-owned subsidiary of China Merchants Holdings, had also decided to register the VLCC in Liberia due to ''technical reasons''. But a shipping source suggested that the company's decision not to register the VLCC in Hongkong may be linked to problems involving the re-mortgage of the vessel. Some banks, after agreeing to finance a vessel, maybe very strict about any transfers and might not want to provide the re-mortgage as conditions changed when effecting a transfer, he said. Mr Tsui said acceptance of registration of vessels after normal working hours was nothing new in Hongkong as it was the practice even under the old shipping register. The new shipping register, which was set up in December 3, 1990, has so far gained over one million gross registered tonnes (grt) to 7.55 million grt. About 15 vessels are still in the pipeline currently being built in Japan, China and South Korea. Separately, Ming Wah is forging ahead with its plans to develop its seamen's training centre in Shekou, southern China, into a full maritime centre for the Far East. Mr Lin said the centre, which was opened in March last year, could not accommodate the rising demand for crew training. Work on the phase two of the centre's project to develop a 26-storey building had just started. Twelve storeys of the building will be used for training while the rest of the building will be used as Ming Wah's office.