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News: USCG grants BWTS extension due to COVID-19

15 April 2020

In light of the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has adjusted its extension policy for affected ships in regards to the US Ballast Water Management Regulations.

As per the attached Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB), the USCG expects that the installation and commissioning of a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) will be completed as scheduled for any ship that conducts drydock before 1 April 2021. In instances where the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered it impractical to perform necessary or scheduled work on a vessel, the following guidance regarding an extension is provided.

The USCG will extend all compliance dates up to 12 months upon request. There is no need to provide any supporting documentation, however members will need to identify the ships in order for the USCG to adjust the necessary documentation. It should be understood that this is not an interim extension, and additional time to accommodate operational or regulatory schedules should not be expected. For ships that undergo drydock but cannot complete installation of a BWTS, members are encouraged to complete as much work as possible during the drydock to avoid the need for future drydock availability.

In those instances where an extension of more than 12 months is needed, members may request an extension in accordance with 33 CFR 151.2036. Requests for more than 12 months should include:

  1. Documentation that a system was purchased, and arrangements were made to have it installed. As is normally provided in extension requests, contractual documents or third party correspondence that include the previously arranged date and location of installation is adequate.
  2. Documentation that the system could not be installed due to COVID related restrictions - third-party documentation, typically from the drydock facility or BWTS manufacturer.
  3. The plan for installing the system, including a list of previously performed and scheduled work, and an estimate as to when and how installation and commissioning will be completed.

In instances where arrangements were made to convert an Alternate Management System (AMS) to USCG type approved system, but the conversion was not completed due to the pandemic, an extension may be requested to continue operating until the conversion can be accomplished.

Members needing even more time due to COVID-19 can request an extension no longer than the minimum time needed for the vessel to comply with the requirements, as determined by the coast guard.