December 8, 2016

Local correspondents in the US have sent an update on the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention as it affects the US. The Convention requires the installation of a ballast water management system (BWMS) meeting the IMO’s standards by the date of a ship’s first renewal of its IOPP certificate after 8 September 2017. However, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulations require the installation of a BWMS which meets the USCG’s stricter testing standards at the first scheduled dry docking after 1 January 2016. This uncoordinated enforcement of these two BWMS regimes has caused significant planning obstacles for the industry.

On 2 December 2016, the USCG finally announced its type-approval of Optimarin’s BWMS. This approval means that ship owners and operators now have a BWMS option which complies with both the USCG and IMO’s BWMS standards. However, in its press release, the USCG clarified that it will still offer a 5-year extension to ships which opt to install foreign, type-approved BWMS (AMS). The USCG will continue to evaluate the BWMS systems of other manufacturers for type-approval.

In addition, ship owners and operators calling at Californian ports should remember that the state of California has its own BWMS standards, which will be even stricter than those of the USCG. California’s “Interim Performance Standards” for BWMS come into effect on 1 January 2020. Those standards are then set to become even more stringent on 1 January 2030, when California’s “Final Performance Standards” are set to come into effect. No BWMS which meet California’s Interim Performance Standards currently exist.