USCG extension policy update


The original guidance for compliance with Ballast Water Management (BWM) regulations needs further clarity and explanation.This update has been issued in response to hundreds of extension requests and dozens of questions received by the USCG. 

The United States USCG (USCG) has therefore issued an updated procedure for requesting extensions for compliance with Ballast Water Management (BWM) regulations. The updated guidance can be found in MSIB 03-17.

The goal of the USCG compliance extension procedure is to provide reasonable flexibility to shipowners and operators, where appropriate, while ensuring steady progress toward achieving statutory intent in enhancing protection of US waters from invasive species in ballast water.

The dynamic nature of this challenge, including:

  • the number and type of approved systems
  • the capacity of manufacturers and shipyards
  • the demands of the global fleet and
  • the impending implementation of the International Convention, demand constant review and update of our procedures even while we continue to honour previously established compliance dates.

Stakeholders should be aware of the following principles that guide our development of the extension request procedures:

  • Previously established compliance dates will be honoured. This update applies only to requests for extensions beyond the current compliance dates.
  • Because USCG type approved BWMSs are available, future extensions will no longer be linked to the ship dry dock cycle. Instead, the length of extension will be based on the analysis provided in the extension request and limited as set forth in the procedure.
  • Due to the dynamic and developing nature of the BWMS market, the USCG may consider extension requests differently for ships with different compliance dates. Generally speaking, the further out the current compliance date is, the less likely an extension request is to be considered at this time. Owners/operators of ships with current compliance date beyond 2020 should plan to be in compliance on that date.
  • Any extension request will be bolstered if the shipowner/operator demonstrates an understanding of how to match the operating profile of their ship to the operating profile of a USCG type approved BWMS.

While the USCG understands that no single system is appropriate for every ship, it is incumbent upon shipowners/operators to employ engineering and operational solutions in order to install approved systems. Where engineering and operational accommodations can be made, the USCG may consider extending the compliance date based on an installation plan. Where installation of an approved system is not reasonable, the USCG would like to see a detailed analysis of how the owner/operator intends to match the ship with an approved BWMS at a future date before considering any extension request. Shipowners/operators should be working closely with BWMS manufacturers to ensure the systems in development meet the needs of their ships.

The USCG remains committed to smooth implementation of the BWM regulations and to finding reasonable and practical solutions to facilitate installation of BWMS in the global fleet. Shipowners/operators should proactively engage their flag state, Classification Society, and the US USCG as they develop compliance strategies in order to avoid ship delays or lapse in eligibility to trade in US waters.

Peter Lundahl Rasmussen
in Copenhagen, DK


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