Any remaining doubts about the International Maritime Organization’s decision to renege on its ambitious timing for the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention are vanquished by an ABS report published last week.
US classification society ABS presented results from a survey undertaken among 27 owners with BWM systems installed in 220 ships across a broad range of classes including containerships, LNG carriers, bulk carriers and tankers. The responses are alarming.
No less than 43% of the systems installed on the sample fleet were said to be either inoperable or problematic – 29% found to be problematic, 14% inoperable.
The catalogue of complaints submitted by owners run the gamut from software to hardware to the crew’s inability to operate the systems.
In an introduction to the report ABS said: “System operators have had to develop plans to keep up with hardware maintenance and maintain an inventory of spare parts on a vessel.
“A recurring concern expressed by many owners relates to the chemical consumables used for determining residual oxidants in the ballast water. Proper storage and handling is critical to the operation of systems employing total residual oxidants.
“Another major takeaway from the workshop was the importance and necessity of maintaining an effective training strategy to ensure crew members can operate these systems properly and safely. Improved training methods and system manuals will decrease the number of issues that stem from operational errors, ABS added.
Finally, the ABS report points to a lack of sufficient preparation by the shipping industry rather than faults in the machinery.
“This comprehensive report, based on feedback from our workshop, is an important assessment of the readiness of industry when it comes to ballast water compliance,” commented ABS director for environmental performance Thomas Kirk. “It is important that the practices which are being used successfully by some vessel owners are shared with others in the industry.”
In July the IMO postponed the implementation date for the BWM Convention, as it affects the extant fleet, until the next special survey after 8 September 2019. Newbuildings must have BWM systems fitted from 8 September this year.