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Web-alert: Update on the U.S. Ballast Water Management (BWM) Extension Program

10 March 2017

The USCG has issued a recent Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB 003/2017) highlighting that their policy granting extensions has now become considerably stricter, with extensions only being issued to vessels that successfully prove their inability to acquire and/or install a type-approved BWMS by their compliance dates. The bulletin advises that:

  • Vessels that already have an Alternative Management System (AMS), installed remain in regulatory compliance and can continue to operate the AMS for the specified period of time (e.g., five years after the vessel’s compliance date).
  • The USCG will now determine the length of the extension, if any, after reviewing the application (required to be submitted at least 12 months before the compliance date) and taking into account the availability of a type approved system based on evidence submitted with the application. 
  • Issuance of supplemental extensions should not be anticipated for vessels with compliance dates of January 1, 2021 or later. 

If the USCG determines that a type approved system for a vessel:  

  • Is available, the vessel will no longer be able to install AMS in lieu of type-approved systems. Therefore, when applying for an extension of the compliance date during which an AMS is being considered, the owner or operator should evaluate whether a Coast Guard type approved system is available for the vessel;
  • Is not available, an extension can be granted which means the AMS can be installed before, and used for up to five years after, the vessel’s compliance date. 

Members are also advised to refer to the attached ECM Client Alert 05-2017 for further clarification.