United States Coastguard (USCG) has recently issued updated and comprehensive guidance to assist with understanding and ensuring compliance with the requirements of the the U.S. Ballast Water Management Regulations. The USCG Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CG-CVC) issued Policy Letter 18-02 on 14 February 2018, providing guidelines for evaluating potential courses of action when a ship bound for a U.S. port has an inoperable ballast water management/treatment system (BWMS/BWTS). These guidelines apply to ships using a USCG approved BWMS or a BWMS accepted by the Coast Guard as an Alternate Management System (AMS). It does not address situations where the inoperable BWMS is the result of an emergency situation caused by weather, casualty, flooding, etc. Each ship has a compliance date as stipulated under 33 CFR 151.2035(b) OR an extended compliance date, as granted by the USCG in response to an extension application. A ship that has passed her compliance date and has an inoperable BWMS may use one of the following BWM methods outlines in 33 CFR 151.2025(a), i.e.
- Use and discharge ballast water obtained exclusively from a U.S. Public Water System (PWS);
- Do not discharge ballast water inside 12 nautical miles;
- Discharge ballast water to a reception facility or to another vessel;
- Perform complete Ballast Water Exchange (BWE) in an area 200 nautical miles from any shore. If the ship intends to use BWE, it must obtain approval from the District Commander or Captain of the Port (COTP) first.