ClassNK anticipates BWMS capacity crunch

Installation deadlines in 2022 could lead to problems if owners wait until the last minute (credit: ClassNK) Installation deadlines in 2022 could lead to problems if owners wait until the last minute (credit: ClassNK)

ClassNK has identified a potential bottleneck for ballast water management systems (BWMS) among its classed fleet and is urging early installation to avoid capacity concerns.

The class society noted that 5,400 ships on its books (out of a total of 7,315) have yet to install a system. For more than half of these vessels (2,832), the deadline for installation under IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention is in 2022.

While noting that ship recycling trends and US Coast Guard requirements (for earlier installations) could reduce the number of ships needing installations in 2022, ClassNK urged owners to take action ahead of the official deadlines for their ships.

“As difficulties are expected in the installation of BWMS if everyone around the world waits until 2022, ClassNK recommends installing early,” the company said in a statement.

BWMS have already been installed on 1,915 ClassNK-classed ships. A further 92 ships have IMO installation deadlines in 2019, 662 in 2020, 795 in 2021, 558 in 2023 and 461 in 2024.

Commenting on the ClassNK statement, insurance company Gard stated that “the trend to wait until the latest dates possible to install ballast water treatment systems is probably not unique to shipowners with ships registered with ClassNK”.

The Norwegian insurer repeated the advice of installing systems early, but added: “There have been reports of operating difficulties with early designs of treatment systems, the number of systems with type approval for the stricter US Coast Guard 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.”

Gard has previously advised customers that fines for inadvertently introducing untreated ballast into the environment arising from the escape or discharge overboard of untreated ballast through a ‘faulty’ approved system, as well as other environmental liabilities related to ballast, are capable of cover. Cover for other fines relating to a breach of the BWM requirements is only available on a discretionary basis.

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