January 5, 2017

As Members are aware, the IMO’s Ballast Water Management 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. On the other hand, for most ships the US Coast Guard (USCG) regulations require the installation of a BWMS meeting the USCG’s stricter testing standards at the first scheduled dry docking after 1 January 2016.

The uncertainty was finally addressed on 2 December 2016 when the USCG announced its type approval of Optimarin’s BWMS. On 23 December 2016, the USCG announced its type-approval of two more BWMS: Alfa Laval Tumba AS’s PureBallast 3 and OceanSaver AS’s BWTS MKII. This means that ship owners and operators now have three BWMS options by which they can achieve compliance with both the USCG and IMO’s BWMS standards. However, the USCG will continue to offer a 5-year extension to ships which opt to install foreign, type-approved BWMS. The USCG will continue to evaluate the BWMS systems of other manufacturers for type-approval.

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.