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DONíT WAIT TOO LONG BEFORE DECIDING ON BWMS, WARNS GARD

Thursday, October 4, 2018 

In its latest update, Norwegian insurer and risk management specialist Gard draws attention to recent industry advice to owners about not delaying fitting of ballast water management systems (BWMS).

A statement issued by ClassNK advises existing ships to install BWMS early on. An analysis of the retrofitting status of its registered ships confirms that, as of the end of August 2018, a total of 7,315 ships in ClassNK’s register are obliged to install ballast water treatment systems in accordance with the BWM Convention. However, only 1,915 ships have completed the installation so far; and of the 5,400 ships that still require attention in order to become compliant, more than half have their installation deadlines in 2022.

The trend to wait until the latest dates possible to install ballast water treatment systems is not unique to shipowners with ships registered with ClassNK, says Gard. There have been reports of operating difficulties with early designs of treatment systems, the number of systems with type approval for the stricter USCG regulations have been limited, and when taking into account the costs associated with retrofitting a system, it is not surprising that shipowners want to increase their chances of success by delaying the decision until the last possible minute.

The reality is, however, that ship upgrades and retrofits require adequate planning to ensure efficient, cost effective and successful completion. With orderbooks filling up for installation dates between 2019 and 2022, “it is already the last possible minute”, says the Ballastwater Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (BEMA). BEMA has reminded the industry that compliance dates are rapidly approaching, and it emphasises that installing and optimising a ballast water treatment system is a lengthy process. Shipowners who wait too long may either find themselves non-compliant or be forced to install a non-optimal solution for their vessel type and operational profile.

An additional benefit of starting the process early is the opportunity to fully learn how the system works once in operation, how the company actually performs, and what the crew needs to know - before compliance is mandatory.

Gard advises owners to start the preparatory work as soon as possible. Even if the installation deadline may not be for several years, in order to save time and money there are multiple decisions that should be addressed now, for example to make sure the installation coincides with a scheduled dry docking. 

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