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News: USCG issues updated ballast water management extensions amid COVID-19 pandemic

01 May 2020

In response to the disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has published the Marine Safety Information Bulletin 14-20 'COVID-19: Ballast Water Management (BWM) Extensions' to update vessel owners/operators on the revised extension policy for vessels impacted by the pandemic with ballast water treatment system (BWTS) compliance dates before 1 April 2021.

On the basis that under the current circumstances it has become increasingly difficult for owners and operators to bring their vessels into compliance with the Coast Guard Ballast Water Management Regulations set forth in Title 33 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 151, Subparts C and D, the Coast Guard will extend all compliance dates before 1 April 2021, upon request, with no requirement placed upon the applicants to submit supporting documentation. Requests for more than 12 months can be submitted in accordance with 33 CFR 151.2036 and the applicants are required to provide supporting documents in line with Paragraph 2 of the MSIB 14-20. It should be noted that if an extension for more than 12 months is granted, it will be for no longer than the minimum time needed for the vessel to comply with the requirements.

In cases where arrangements were made to convert an Alternate Management System (AMS) to a Coast Guard type approved system, but the conversion was not completed due to the pandemic, an extension may be requested to continue operating the AMS under 33 CFR 151.2026(c) until the conversion can be accomplished. Requests for an extension longer than 12 months should provide details and third-party verification(s) that the arrangements for bringing a vessel into compliance were previously made but could not be completed due to the pandemic. A detailed description of the changes is available in the MSIB 14-20, a copy of which is available in the attachment box.

All extension requests should be scanned and sent in by email in order to expedite review. The review and approval of an extension request could take as long as 30 days.