USCG says “plug and play” BWMS hopes are unrealistic

In the fourth chapter of the US Coast Guard’s Ballast Water Series,  Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, wrote on the “plug and play” ballast water management system (BWMS).

He noted that shipowners had expressed the expectation that BWMS should be “plug and play” equipment.

He said that owners who had recently built ships and wrote BWMS specifications into the contracts with the expectation that, upon delivery, there would be sufficient space, power, and piping available for a future “plug and play” type system, had become frustrated that the selection and installation of a BWMS required additional bespoke work.

Nadeau observed that the different treatment technologies employed by the various BWMS manufacturers each had unique features and operational requirements that had to be satisfied in order for the equipment to function properly. “Owners should expect that fitting a BWMS to a specific vessel will require a thorough analysis of the vessel’s engineering systems, cargo operations, and trade routes”, he said.

While consultation with specialists and contractors might help vessel owners and operators, Nadeau felt that it might not be appropriate to outsource such work completely and to expect a “plug and play” capability. A more realistic expectation would be that that the selection, installation, operation, and maintenance of a BWMS would require vessel-specific analysis.” Every BWMS installation is a customized installation, and every ballast water management plan (BWMP) is a customized plan”, he said.

He concluded that the complexity and breadth of a BWMS’s impact on vessel operations meant that a “plug and play” solution was not likely to succeed.

The other blogs in USCG ballast water series are:

12/1/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 5 – Contingency planning for ballast water management

11/29/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 3 – Coast Guard BWMS type approval program update

11/28/2017: Ballast Water Series Part 2 – The Coast Guard’s focus on compliance

11/27/2017: New ballast water series from Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy