Commercial Vessel Compliance

12/2/2016: Marine Safety Center issues Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) type-approval certificate to Optimarin AS

Today, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center issued the first U.S. Coast Guard Ballast Water Management System Type Approval Certificate to Norwegian manufacturer Optimarin AS after a detailed review of the type approval application determined the system met the requirements of 46 CFR 162.060. The Optimarin Ballast System is a filtration/ultraviolet ballast water management system with treatment capacities ranging from 167m3/h to 3000m3/h.

“Today’s decision marks a significant milestone for the maritime industry in addressing the threat posed by invasive species,” stated Capt. John Mauger, commanding officer of the Marine Safety Center. “The U.S. Coast Guard’s testing requirements set strong standards for the performance and validation of ballast water management systems under a range of conditions. The issuance of the type approval certificate documents the ability of the Optimarin Ballast System to meet the U.S. Coast Guard’s standards.”

A copy of the certificate may be obtained by contacting the manufacturer.

The Marine Safety Center continues to review type approval applications from other BWMS manufacturers. Each type approval application includes thousands of pages of data and analysis to document compliance with the comprehensive land-based and shipboard testing requirements. In addition, the applications include detailed descriptions of materials, evaluations of component suitability for the maritime environment, and operating manuals. The Marine Safety Center remains in constant communications with the manufacturers and the Independent Laboratories to keep them apprised of the status of our review.

“While this is a significant milestone, it is the first of multiple system approvals that are needed to mitigate the threat of harmful aquatic invasive species,” said Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy. “One size does not fit all, so we will continue to evaluate other systems submitted by multiple manufactures with the intent to provide options that meet shipping’s varying needs.”

In conjunction with the type approval certification, the Coast Guard released Marine Safety Information Bulletin 14-16 which provides answers to frequently asked questions concerning:

  • The extension program;
  • Vessel compliance dates; and
  • Use of Alternate Management Systems (AMS).


U.S. regulations allow the Coast Guard to grant an extension to a vessel’s compliance date if the master, owner, operator, agent or person in charge (collectively “owner/operator”) documents that, despite all efforts, compliance with one of the approved ballast water management methods, including installation of a Coast Guard type-approved BWMS, is not possible. Now that a type-approved BWMS is available, any owner/operator requesting an extension must provide the Coast Guard with an explicit statement supported by documentary evidence (e.g., a delay in commercial availability) that installation of the type approved system is not possible for purposes of compliance with the regulatory implementation schedule.

While this certification provides vessel owners and operators with a type-approved system to meet the ballast water discharge standard, there are other ways that vessels can comply with U.S. ballast water management regulations. These include:

  • Temporarily use of a foreign type-approved BWMS that has been accepted by the Coast Guard as an alternate management system (AMS) (5-year limitation) if installed in compliance with 33 CFR Part 151
  • Use of ballast water obtained exclusively from a U.S. public water system
  • Discharge of ballast water to a reception facility
  • No discharge of unmanaged ballast water inside 12 nm


The Coast Guard’s ballast water portal provides information on BWM compliance date extensions. The site also provides access to regulations, policy letters, informational bulletins, and extension application status to help the maritime industry comply with the BWM requirements.

Please send questions not answered on Homeport regarding the Coast Guard’s BWM extension program and requests for compliance extension to:

For more information on the Coast Guard’s ballast water program, please view previous blog posts on Maritime Commons.

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.

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