Owners face dilemma over equipment installation dates
Each New year brings new regulation and although the coming into force date of the Polar Code and the IGF Code for ships using gas as a fuel took place on 1 January those only affect newbuildings delivered this year. The Polar Code does have an effect on some existing ships bringing with it some new regulations on safety equipment and crew requirements but those will come into effect only in 2018. There are just two new regulations coming into effect in 2017 which do have implications for existing ships and that is the penultimate tranche of vessels required to fit ECDIS and the possible need for ballast water treatment systems on some existing ships. The ECDIS requirement covers cargo vessels other than tankers of between 20,000gt and 50,000gt built before 1 July 2013. Such ships are required to have an ECDIS fitted not later than their first survey on or after 1 July 2017. There will of course be other vessels from previous segments of the rollout programme that have still to have their survey performed. The only valid reason for not installing ECDIS is if the ship is to be taken out of service in the following two years and that an exemption under this condition has been granted by the flag state. Giving the need for more scrapping in most sectors, it can be expected that more than a few owners will be applying for such exemptions from flag states but that cannot be delayed as the exemption will need to be in place before the survey date. The matter of installing ballast treatment systems is less certain and although the convention comes into effect on 8 September this year, the IMO will be discussing changes to implementation dates at MEPC 71. This has been moved by the IMO to early July from the planned mid-May dates making the position of owners more difficult in determining when a system needs to be fitted. As for the situation in the US where three systems (Optimarin, Alfa Laval – Both UV systems and OceanSaver’s electrochlorination systems) have now gained US Type-Approval, owners currently operating with other systems installed must hope that the makers of their system achieve similar results before the AMS exemption expires. Subscribers can access the latest report on Ballast Water Treatment.