On Monday, Alfa Laval announced that the recent U.S. Coast Guard type approval for its new ballast water management system is leading to an uptick in inquiries and sales. The firm recently closed a deal on 11 systems for Stamco Ship Management’s ro/ro fleet.
"This order is directly tied to the USCG type approval of PureBallast," said Anders Lindmark, the head of Alfa Laval's ballast water management division. "Since the type approval was announced, Alfa Laval has seen a clear increase in the number of inquiries about the system."
Other manufacturers – even those which have not yet received type approval – have also reported rising sales inquiries from shipowners now that the first Coast Guard approvals are complete. It is not just the availability of approved systems – the Coast Guard is also pressing owners to work on compliance from an early date.
"It is imperative that vessel owners/operators review and update vessel Ballast Water Management plans routinely and especially now that type approved systems are available. Ballast water exchange and the use of Coast Guard accepted [alternative systems] are being phased out as compliance options," wrote RADM Paul F. Thomas in an advisory last month. "Every domestic vessel inspection or Port State Control examination includes an assessment of compliance with the BWM requirements . . . failure to comply with the applicable requirements may result in penalties."
The IMO's ballast water management convention comes into force this September; unless the Marine Environment Protection Committee decides to postpone its implementation, most merchant vessels will have to install a ballast water management system at the next IOPPC renewal after the convention's entry into force, potentially as late as 2022. Observers say that MEPC may vote in favor of an extended compliance period, as a majority of flag states have asked the committee for an additional two-year delay. Some warn that if owners do not begin purchasing and installing systems in the next few years, it could create a rush in 2022-2024 as yards try to retrofit the world’s fleet all at once.