U.S. Coast Guard to Grant Extensions for BWTS Installation
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin indicating it anticipates granting extensions for those vessel owners struggling to comply with the requirement to install a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) by April 1, 2021.
The Bulletin recognizes that disruptions to supply chains and workforce availability due to the COVID-19 pandemic make it difficult for owners and operators to bring their vessels into compliance with the Coast Guard Ballast Water Management Regulations set forth in Title 33 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 151, Subparts C and D (33 C.F.R. 151 Subparts C and D).
The Coast Guard expects that the installation and commissioning of a BWTS will be completed as scheduled for any vessel which conducts a credit drydock (inspection of the outside of the ships bottom) before April 1, 2021. In instances where the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered it impractical to perform necessary or scheduled work on a vessel the Coast Guard will extend all compliance dates up to 12 months upon request. Extensions beyond 12 months may also be granted.
For ships that undergo a credit drydock but cannot complete installation of a BWTS, owners and operators are encouraged to complete as much work as possible during the credit drydock to avoid the need for future drydock availability.
Drydock works globally have faced disruptions as a result of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, “Do Not Travel” orders, equipment unable to be shipped, minimal international flights impacting technicians’ travel, limited port or drydock availability and social distancing requirements.
Last month, the Coast Guard indicated it will liberally use remote inspection techniques to verify vessel compliance and, if needed, defer inspections to facilitate continued trade during the pandemic.