Ballast Water
Compliance Extensions

IMC helps owners/operators prepare requests to extend the installation date for ballast water management systems required under USCG regulations.

U.S. ballast water management regulations (“the regulations”) require non-exempt commercial vessels operating within 12 nautical miles of the U.S. (“in U.S. waters”) to manage ballast water in one of five ways: (1) install and use a U.S. type-approved ballast water management system (BWMS) to meet the discharge standard; (2) use a foreign type-approved BWMS that has been accepted by the U.S. Coast Guard as an alternate management system (AMS); (3) use and discharge ballast water obtained exclusively from a U.S. public water system; (4) discharge ballast water to a reception facility; or (5) do not discharge ballast water in U.S. waters.

The first U.S. type-approval occurred on December 2, 2016. On that same date, the Coast Guard issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 14-16 which, among other things, answers questions about the ability of the master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge (collectively “owner/operator/manager”) to extend the date for compliance with one of the above-listed ballast water management methods. The regulations permit the Coast Guard to grant an extension to a vessel’s compliance date if the owner/operator/manager can document that, despite all efforts, compliance with one of the these methods, including installation and use of a Coast Guard type-approved BWMS, is not possible.

The main thing the MSIB does is make it clear to owners/operators/managers that obtaining an extension to the compliance date is going to be much more complex and difficult now that type-approved systems are, and increasingly will be, available. Applicants will have to (in the words of the MSIB) provide an “explicit statement supported by documentary evidence” that compliance is not possible. Examples provided in the MSIB of the types of situations that may merit the granting of an extension, and the types of documents that might be required in support of the extension request, include:

  • Written correspondence between the owner/operator/manager and the applicable BWMS manufacturer(s) that confirm BWMS are not available for installation on that particular vessel or class of vessels until after the compliance date;

  • Vessel design limitations that prove incompatibility with type-approved BWMS currently available; and

  • Safety concerns related to installing type-approved systems currently available.

Unless the applicant is able to clearly document that compliance is not possible, the vessel will not be granted an extension and will have to employ one of the approved ballast water management methods specified above.

If obtaining an extension to the U.S.’s ballast water compliance date is part of your overall vessel or fleet management strategy, the financial consequences of failing to properly navigate the compliance extension process may be enormous. IMC’s team of experienced, senior former Coast Guard regulators can guide vessels owners/operators/managers through this difficult process, ensuring the best possible extension request is crafted and submitted that maximizes the likelihood of receiving Coast Guard approval in the quickest possible manner.

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© 2019 by Independent Maritime Consulting LLC

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