ABS publishes new advice ahead of retrofit rollout

Malcolm Latarche

09 May 2019

US classification society ABS has published its 2019 Ballast Water Management Advisory providing critical advice to owners in advance of the five-year window beginning September 2019, requiring retrofits of BWM systems on existing ships.

“We anticipate roughly 6,000 vessels per year over the next five years will need to be retrofitted with ballast water management systems to meet the revised IMO compliance dates,” said William Burroughs, ABS Ballast Water Management Lead. “We recognise this is a large portion of the fleet and will only be achievable through proper planning and effective project management and execution. This Advisory provides in-depth guidance to help owners understand the complexity of retrofitting ballast water management systems, supporting successful and on-time retrofits.”

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Through a recent comprehensive global questionnaire of owners and operators, ABS found that 65% of BWM systems were reported as inoperable or problematic. The Advisory provides a practical and phased approach to guide owners and operators with retrofitting and operating BWM systems, helping avoid costly mistakes and operational disruptions.

To be compliant with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention for existing vessels, shipowners need to install a BWMS at the vessel’s next renewal survey associated with the IOPP certificate (MARPOL Annex I) after 8 September 2019, essentially creating a five year window for retrofits between September 2019 and September 2024, depending on when the renewal survey is due.

The updated Advisory follows the ABS Best Practices for Operation of Ballast Water Management Systems Report published earlier this year that affords valuable insight for best practices to overcome key challenges with selecting, installing and operating a BWM system.

To form an accurate picture of the challenges with achieving BWM compliance, ABS held global workshops in New Orleans, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Athens, reaching more than 60 shipowners and operators and about 500 vessels. Lessons learned from the Workshop were distilled into a concise and practical step-by-step explanation of the retrofit challenges. The Advisory provides reminders for owners when reviewing retrofit projects for their fleet and will allow designers and planners to better manage commonly overlooked details that could delay BWM system retrofits.