Commercial Vessel Compliance

8/21/2018: “Onboard BW Management System” – Do you know which option to select on NBIC’s Ballast Water Management Report?

The National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) is a statutorily mandated joint program of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Coast Guard that collects, analyzes, and interprets data on the ballast water management practices of commercial ships that operate in the waters of the United States.

The principal aims of NBIC are to quantify the patterns of the volumes and origins of ballast water discharged into waters of the U.S., and to determine the degree to which such water has undergone required management designed to reduce the likelihood of the introduction or spread of aquatic invasive species.

With few exceptions, U.S. and foreign flag vessels equipped with ballast tanks and which are bound for ports or places of the U.S. must submit a Ballast Water Management Report to the NBIC, in most cases up to six hours after arrival. As part of the report, vessel owners/operators using an installed ballast water management system make an entry in the “Onboard BW Management System” block on the form indicating the management system currently in use.

In some cases, vessels are reporting enrollment in the Shipboard Technology Evaluation Program (STEP) when completing the “Onboard BW Management System” block. Currently, there are only 12 vessels enrolled in the STEP program. Vessels enrolled in STEP do so through the Coast Guard Office of Operating and Environmental Standards. Each STEP enrolled vessel has an installed BWMS that is undergoing type approval testing. Those 12 vessels are the only vessels authorized to select the STEP option on the Ballast Water Management Report form.

For the majority of vessels submitting reports to NBIC, the only appropriate entries for the “Onboard BW Management System” block of the NBIC Ballast Water Management Report are:

• For USCG Type Approved systems, the US Coast Guard Approval Number, found on the certificate plate installed on the BWMS, which looks like: 162.060/#/#.
• For USCG accepted Alternative Management Systems, the AMS ID, found in the AMS acceptance letter and looks like: AMS-20##-XXX…XXX-001.
• Enter “NONE” if no USCG Type Approved BWMS or accepted AMS is installed (e.g., compliance date has not passed or the vessel qualifies for a regulatory or route exemption).

For questions regarding the Ballast Water Management Report contact Mr. Brad McKitrick at

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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