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Monday, February 4, 2019 

Classification society ABS has reported a fall in the number of onboard ballast water treatment systems deemed inoperable by those that operate them. The disclosure follows the results of a questionnaire from a series of global ABS Ballast Water Management (BWM) Workshops, initiated to help shipowners and operators of BWM systems to overcome some of the challenges faced.

Workshops were held in New Orleans, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Athens, with attendees reviewing the best practices that support successful BWM system integration. Participants explored common and unique challenges resulting from different applied technologies, various ship types and sizes, operational and environmental conditions, operating frequency, crew competencies, BWM system maintenance requirements and feasible contingency measures.

ABS Senior Vice President for Engineering and Technology, Derek Novak, said: “As ships come into compliance with ballast water management requirements, it is important to consider some of the common system challenges and best practices for operating these systems. The responses we received from the owners and operators who attended our workshops helped us gain a broad industry perspective from around the globe, which we will use to develop and enhance our guidance to industry.”

To help focus discussion and drive the agenda, workshop participants completed a comprehensive questionnaire covering the critical aspects to consider in selecting, installing and operating a BWM system.

Responses indicated that the number of completely inoperable systems has dropped from 14%, down to 6%, since ABS last conducted a questionnaire in the fall of 2017.

Key insights gained during the workshop include:

  • Incorporating ship-specific contingency measures within the BWM Plan helps avoid potential downtime and financial penalties;
  • System-specific training, both for shoreside support and ship crew, is critical for effectively operating and maintaining a BWM system:
  • Monitoring key data and operational trends and understanding system design limitations helps crew determine the suitability of the treatment technology for a vessel’s planned operational routes;
  • Vendor after-sales global support and expertise is critically important for uninterrupted system operation.

“We commend ABS for taking the lead on this topic and facilitating dialogue on such a critical issue to the industry,” said Crowley Maritime Corporation Director of Engineering Contracts, Roy Choudhury.

“By participating in the questionnaire and the workshop, we were able to hear from others in the industry who are experiencing similar challenges and share strategies that can benefit the broader marine industry, helping us all meet and achieve environmental compliance objectives.”

ABS is updating its Best Practices for Operation of Ballast Water Management Systems Report, last published in August of 2017. The updated 2019 Report aims to capture all the key discussions items, lessons learned and valuable insight shared by the workshop attendees with respect to the installation and operation of BWM systems.

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