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V.Group project director highlights failings in ballast water tech

V.Group project director highlights failings in ballast water tech
A survey of vessels by technical management company V.Group has revealed less than 2% of respondents have fitted Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS).

V.Group project director Greg Hughes, speaking at the Marshall Islands conference on Monday said that of the 548 vessels included in the survey, only 10 have confirmed BWMS installations, while 375 still require the systems. 

Sixty-seven vessels reported they did not plan to install BWMS systems, with many set to scrap their vessels before the convention entered force.  Owners of a further 96 vessels didn’t respond.

Hughes highlighted a number of issues surrounding the practicalities of BWMS, indicating that much of the time, the systems that were in use were not even being used: “There are only a few systems fitted across the sea. No-one turns them on… they don’t want the trouble.

“Then there’s the filter issue,” Hughes continued. “Nearly all of these systems use filters. They plug up; they get all sorts of gunk; they create a large load on the ballast pump – which isn’t even necessarily designed to drive through a BWMS. Let’s say I have a 1,000cu m ballast pump, but I can actually now only use it for 800cu m per hour. So lots of engineering issues.”

According to V.Ships’ calculations, the cost for high capacity systems can reach upward of $1.6m, in addition to the cost of installation, which can be up to $500,000, as well as associated costs such as surveys and training.

Hughes further highlighted the risks to shipowners in installing a system, echoing fellow speaker Intertanko's Tim Wilkins’ criticism of ineffectual type approval processes in the event of aggressive port state control inspections. “The point is, if its type approved, where’s my defence of my owner?” said Hughes. “He bought a type approved piece of equipment. If it’s type approved it should work, right? No. Not with Ballast Water. You have to use it in the right type of water. That’s something that we have to teach our crews. Luckily the AMS accreditation comes with this assurance that it can operate in any kind of water.”