Commercial Vessel Compliance

11/21/2017: Preview of upcoming ballast water series from assistant commandant for prevention

Editor’s note: As promised during the 4th Annual BWMTechnology North America Conference in September, Maritime Commons will launch a new ballast water series November 27 from the Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, Rear Adm. John Nadeau. In the series, Nadeau will provide greater insight into many of the leading topics discussed during the conference.

To give our readers a snapshot of the upcoming 5-part series, Maritime Commons is posting the following summary of Coast Guard presentations and comments from the conference. We hope you enjoy the summary and look forward to sharing Rear Adm. Nadeau’s series with you next week!

Staff from the Coast Guard’s Office of Operating and Environmental Standards and the Marine Safety Center attended the 4th Annual Ballast Water Tech North America conference in Miami in September to provide conference goers with the latest Coast Guard information on ballast water management system (BWMS) regulations and compliance.

The opening panel session was moderated by Kathy Metcalfe, president and CEO of Chamber of Shipping of America, and focused on the state of ballast water management. Panelists included Doug Schneider of the World Shipping Council and representatives from the cruise line industry and ballast water testing laboratories. In her opening remarks, Regina Bergner from Coast Guard Headquarters explained that the Coast Guard has begun transitioning from program implementation to compliance enforcement.

“We rolled out the regulations and have spent the last 5 years implementing the program, setting up the type approval and the alternate management system (AMS) program, and certifying independent labs,” Bergner said. “Now that all of that is in place, our focus is on compliance.”

Bergner also stressed that ballast water should be viewed as any other type of pollution, such as oily bilge water or untreated pollution.

“Whatever you’re expecting for your compliance with sewage treatment plants and oily water separators, that’s the same type of enforcement regime the Coast Guard will take for ballast water management compliance.”

Bergner also reminded the audience that the regulation requires ship operators to notify the nearest Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) if they find their BWMS is inoperable, but added that the Coast Guard recommends the vessels also notify the Captain of the Port to which the ship is headed, because that port may have different conditions of entry.

The Coast Guard is also scrutinizing requests for compliance date extensions. With U.S. type approved BWMSs available since December 2016, a more rigorous analysis and justification must be provided for any extension request – and the request must include a strategy to bring the vessel into compliance.

“If you request an extension, we want to see an evaluation of why each of the type approved systems is not acceptable for your vessel, and we also want to see your strategy for compliance,” Bergner said.

Bergner emphasized that if a ship has a BWMS or AMS installed, the Coast Guard wants to see that the crew is trained in its operation and it’s being used regardless of operating location.

“If we come on board and you tell us your system doesn’t work, or you have a new crew and they don’t know how to operate it, you’re not in compliance,” Bergner said. “And the worst time to find out your system is inoperable is when you’re approaching U.S. waters.”

Bergner also discussed the various efforts underway to provide the maritime community more guidance for compliance. Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, is planning an upcoming multi-part blog series for Maritime Commons to address many of the topics raised before and during the conference. There is also a new Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular in development that will replace the 2004 NVIC and provide guidance to Coast Guard personnel, vessel owners and operators, masters, shipping agents and persons-in-charge on recommended measures to implement and comply with the new regulations. Finally, the Coast Guard recently published CG-CVC Policy Letter 17-05 “Guidelines For Voluntary Compliance With The International Convention For The Control And Management Of Ships’ Ballast Water And Sediments, 2004,” that provides guidance to U.S. flagged vessels on how to comply with the IMO ballast water convention when on international voyages.

The 140 ship owners/operators and BWMS manufacturers in attendance had several other opportunities during the 2-day conference for small group discussions with Bergner and Dr. Richard Everett, an environmental protection specialist with Coast Guard Headquarters. Topics ranged widely and included the following:

• Contingency planning and ballast water management plans (BWMP)
• Type approval and dual mode systems
• Environmental Technology Verification Program expert panel evaluation of MPN counting method
• Auditing of Independent Labs
• Best management practices (BMP) and regulations for the use of eductors to strip ballast water from tanks
• The definition of a “clean” tank in the context of a ship using water from a Public Water System
• Redundancy of installed BWMS
• The future of the AMS program

Lt. Maria Wiener, representing the Marine Safety Center (MSC), gave conference-goers an overview of the four components of the U.S. type approval process: (1) design and engineering standards; (2) Independent Laboratory certification; (3) the testing program, to include land-based biological efficacy, shipboard operational trials, and component testing; and (4) application review.

When screening an application, Wiener said that MSC looks for the presence of several primary documents and records: (1)a completed type approval checklist, (2) content requirements of 162.060-14a, (3) scaling verification documents, (4) validation of biological or water quality parameter augmentation, and (5) quality control records.

“When we receive a letter of intent from a manufacturer, we always reply back with a letter in return and provide an application checklist,” Wiener said. “I encourage you to fill in that checklist as thoroughly as possible, because it’s very helpful to the MSC as it provides us a good reference point.”

Read all the blogs in our new ballast water series, which ran November 27 – December 1, 2017:

12/1/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 5 – Contingency planning for ballast water management
11/30/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 4 – The “plug and play” ballast water management system
11/29/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 3 – Coast Guard BWMS type approval program update
11/28/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 2 – The Coast Guard’s focus on compliance
11/27/2017: New ballast water series from Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy

12/5/2017: Summary of Q&A with USCG panelists during BWMTechnology North America

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.