Use BWMS more to improve reliability, says USCG

Regular use of BWMS leads to more knowledgable crew and more reliable systems, says the US Coast Guard Regular use of BWMS leads to more knowledgable crew and more reliable systems, says the US Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has urged ship owners to use ballast water management systems (BWMS) more often in its latest policy letter.

The agency, which issued its latest guidance on inoperable systems in the letter, noted that BWMS which are used more often – rather than just in US waters – are more reliable. It claimed that USCG representatives continually hear how difficult the systems are to maintain, how they are only used on voyages to the US and that crew have little training on the machinery.

The letter concluded: “For the systems to operate reliably, they must be used regularly by crew trained to use the system. Regular usage improves crew operational knowledge, thereby improving thee BWMS’ reliability.”

The body of the policy letter considers the alternative ballast water treatment methods available for ships should a BWMS become inoperable; how ship operators should respond if they cannot carry out any of the alternative measures under the USCG regulation; and how ship owners should communicate with the coast guard in these cases.

The letter requires USCG units to respond promptly to a vessel that has reported its BWMS inoperable, to ascertain alternative measures and a repair timeline. “While the USCG cannot require a vessel to provide repair details, doing so can help expedite… decision[s] on alternatives and route approval.”

A lack of ‘consumables’ cannot be grounds for declaring a system inoperable, the agency notes. Nor will ships with inoperable systems from bankrupt BWMS suppliers receive special consideration when making alternative treatment arrangements.

The full letter can be viewed here.

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