Classification society ABS has published a report providing insights into how industry is progressing with ballast water management systems.
Notably, only 57 percent of the systems installed on the vessels of operatorus surveyed were being operated. The remaining systems were either deemed inoperable or considered problematic.
Approximately 30 owners and operators were surveyed, representing over 200 treatment systems, and the report reveals that some of the major challenges that they face are related to software, hardware and the crew’s ability to operate the systems correctly. 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 oxidant. Additionally, owners with UV systems reported that the cost and frequency of UV lamp replacement was a significant concern.
Reduction of ballast water throughput during both uptake and discharge was a recurring theme. In many cases this appears linked to filter clogging and cleaning.
Another key issue was the importance and necessity of maintaining an effective training strategy to ensure crew members can operate these systems properly and safely.
When testing operability, ABS says testing locations, in port or at sea, face slightly different scenarios. In each case, it is suggested that operators run at least a full ballast and deballast cycle, including a stripping operation. It’s important to clean the ballast tanks before putting the system in service, says ABS. Final examination confirming that all the vital components are intact and functional is essential.
Although it is tempting to have shipboard crews undergo training during testing, it is not recommended, as it can impact the result, adding uncontrollable variables to the testing.
The report is available here.