Commercial Vessel Compliance

9/21/2015: Ballast water update from the Coast Guard’s Office of Operating and Environmental Standards

Written by Capt. Scott Kelly, Chief, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Operating and Environmental Standards

The Coast Guard will be presenting a summary of our ballast water regulations during the upcoming Annual BMWTech North America Ballast Water Management Technology Conference. In anticipation of this conference, I wanted to provide an update and announce we will be publishing a series of updates and information guides on Maritime Commons over the next few months.

In order to facilitate compliance with the U.S. ballast water discharge requirements published in 2012, the Coast Guard has engaged manufacturers, ship operators, ship builders and other maritime stakeholders to identify and address compliance hurdles. Based on this feedback, I am pleased to announce that we recently published CG-OES Policy Letter No. 13-01, Revision 1, which provides updated guidance to vessel managers seeking extensions on their vessels’ compliance dates.

You can find the policy letter in Homeport. Click through the following links: Environmental > Ballast Water Management Program > Regulation and Policy Documents > Extended Compliance Dates > USCG BWM Extension CG-OES Policy Letter No 13-01 Rev 1.

Some of the changes in our policy include:

  • The removal of the five-year limit on a vessel’s cumulative extension;
  • A simplification of the extension application process and documentation requirements by permitting “batch” applications for fleets of vessels owned or operated by an applicant;
  • Removed requirement to provide copy of a vessel’s Ballast Water Management, or BWM, Plan. A statement that a vessel has a BWM Plan that the vessel will follow for discharges that take place in waters of the U.S. is sufficient.
  • The supplemental extension process has new sub-section to clarify application requirements.
  • A vessel’s approved extension letter may be transferred to a new owner for the remainder of its extended compliance date.

Through providing this revision, we hope to streamline the process for requesting an extension.

I encourage all ship owners, operators, manufacturers, port authorities and administrations to continue to work collaboratively and proactively to manage ballast water in the safest and most environmentally sound manner possible to ensure that harmful aquatic nuisance species are not discharged into waters of the United States. The Coast Guard remains committed to protecting our waters from invasive species while supporting the continuous flow of maritime trade that drives the national economy. In an effort to be as transparent as possible about the Coast Guard Ballast Water Program and Coast Guard Type Approval requirements, we will publish a series of updates and information guides on Maritime Commons over the next few months.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.