43% of BWM systems 'inoperable' or 'problematic': ABS survey

A survey of owners and operators that have fitted ballast water management systems (BWMS) by classification society ABS found that some 43% were considered “inoperable” or “problematic”.

ABS sent out a questionnaire to owners on their operational experiences with BWM systems and received responses from 27 owners with systems fitted to 220 ships including bulk carriers, tankers, container ships, LNG carriers, and gas carriers.

ABS said that reviewing the responses should that 57% of systems were in operation while the remaining 43% were considered “inoperable or problematic”.

Breaking the results down further just 14% of systems were reported as being run regularly and subject to monitoring and/or efficacy testing, while 43% the system was running but had not been subjected to monitoring or efficacy testing. For some 29% system operations were reported as problematic and some 14% of systems were described as “inoperable”.

The survey found that found common challenges facing owners were installation, commissioning, crew training, in-operation experience, after-sale services, and post-operation experiences.

A particular challenge facing owners and operators was related to software, hardware and the crew’s ability to operate the systems correctly.

“The software integrated into the ballast water management systems which were analyzed in this study often required extensive updates, and experienced system malfunctions. System operators have had a difficult time with hardware maintenance and maintaining appropriate spare parts onboard,” ABS said.

It said that the biggest takeaway was the need for effective training of crew in operating the system. “Crew members are constantly on rotation not only on and off the ship but on and off different ships with a variety of ballast water systems. This variety can lead to confusion on operational procedures and maintenance schedules,” ABS explained.

For owners using UV systems the cost and frequency of UV lamps was found to be a “significant concern”.

As well as the questionnaire owners and operators were also invited to take part in a workshop to help ABS gain a snapshot of industry compliance with fitting BWM systems.

“When we hear directly from owners and operators, we are better able to understand the challenges in the operation of the systems, and for those systems which are operational, what practices are being followed,” said ABS executive vice president for global marine Kirsi Tikka.

“This comprehensive report, based on feedback from our workshop, is an important assessment of the readiness of industry when it comes to ballast water compliance,” commented ABS director for environmental performance Thomas Kirk. “It is important that the practices which are being used successfully by some vessel owners are shared with others in the industry.”

The IMO’s BWM Convention comes into force for all newbuildings from 8 September this year, while existing vessels will have to fit an approved system at the next special survey from 8 September 2019. The US has its own, more stringent rules.

The full report can be downloaded here

Posted 11 August 2017

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Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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