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Guest Editorial: Ship Owners need to act quickly for IMO Ballast Water Convention

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Ash Sinha is the Group Business Development Director of global ship repair, conversion and marine specialist A&P Group. Following news that the IMO Ballast Water Convention has been ratified; A&P Group has urged ship owners to act quickly.

“Finland’s accession has brought the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention into play, which means that vessels in excess of 400GRT docking for routine maintenance from 8th September 2017 onwards must have a type approved ballast waste management system installed.

“Ballast water is carried in ships’ ballast tanks to improve stability and is taken in and discharged when cargo is loaded and unloaded. This water can contain harmful bacteria, organisms and pathogens that can seriously damage local ecosystems and the marine environment. The convention rules that ships must manage their ballast water more effectively and responsibly which can involve removing it, making it harmless or avoiding its intake and discharge altogether.

“Until a few years ago there were less than 200 vessels with ballast waste management installed in the world, with most ship owners waiting to decide when and if they’d invest. Now the convention has been ratified, many ship owners are on the cusp of investing for the first time and will require guidance and advice to choose the right systems for their vessels.

“While installation itself takes only a few days, it is the initial feasibility and ship’s integration design of the system, combined with the manufacturer’s lead-time that can be quite lengthy, sometimes as much as 10 or 11 months. These timescales are little known by most ship owners who wrongly believe there is no rush to schedule works and make provision.

“We also expect that many of the ‘early adopter’ ship owners that invested in water ballast systems to get ahead of the curve, will also need to establish whether their systems comply or fall foul of the new rulings. This is prompted by confusion as to whether the standards set out by the International Maritime Organisation will satisfy the United States Coast Guard and vice versa. We also predict that a glut of vessels will come in early for their five year dry-dock in order to delay the need for ballast water treatment systems and buy themselves more time.

This combination of early dry-dockers, confused early adopters and first time investors will make for a particularly busy period as the expertise of designers, installers and manufacturers and the availability of ship yards are sought. Ship owners really must make use of the available time, seek systems advice and take heed of the warnings.”

About A&P Group

A&P Group has installed ballast water treatment systems on 12 vessels over the last four years, including the recent installation on the RFA Cardigan Bay as part of its contract to maintain and provide global support for the Through Life Cluster Contract of four frontline RFA vessels.

A&P Group’s experience in this field has been further marked with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global firm GEA at SMM Hamburg last month.

The MoU is for the promotion of its new ballast water treatment system GEA BallastMaster marine and covers the complete requirement from vessel survey, supply, installation, commissioning and service by A&P Group.

A&P Group operates seven dry docks across three strategic locations in the UK and has a business in Australia that provides ship repair services and support to the Royal Australian Navy. All facilities combine a rich heritage of marine engineering skills and experience, providing ship owners and energy companies with all the precision skills needed to complete the most demanding projects.

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