US regulations affecting your ships - get the March update!


This is the latest in a series of reports supplied by the Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA) with the intention of keeping BIMCO members appraised of legislative developments in the US affecting international shipping. BIMCO highlights only the relevant developments that would impact members.  The full CSA report is also provided.  

US Coast Guard Clarifications on Ballast Water Extension Program

On March 17 2017, the USCG issued an MSIB addressing new policy changes in their ballast water management extension program. The MSIB document is the direct result of the US type approval of three ballast water management systems in December 2016. Prior to these US type approvals, the extension request application was quite simple;you only needed to request an extension based on the fact that no US type approvals existed. That obviously changed once these three systems received their US type approval.

Two of these systems have minimum hold times of 72 hours making them unacceptable to ships on shorter voyages. The other system has a hydrogen gas venting requirement making it potentially  unusable on ships based on already established hazardous area designation. Now, the USCG will require a ship specific extension request that shows why these three systems are unacceptable to use on that ship, based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to flow rates, hold times, power level/consumption, water temperature and footprint limitations based on available space on existing ships.

The USCG has also indicated that even with a successful argument that no current US type approved systems are appropriate for use on a particular ship, the extension request must include information on how the shipowner intends to comply with the requirements, including a timeline and installation plan. These latter requirements are difficult, if not impossible to provide given that many owners will still be looking at other systems that have yet to receive a US type approval, making it difficult to predict with any certainty, when a particular system would be ready for installation.

The main point the USCG has made to CSA in ongoing discussions is that they want to see evidence that the shipowner is engaged in conversations with manufacturers of systems appropriate for a specific ship and is making an effort in good faith to comply with the regulations as soon as an appropriate system becomes available.

For further information please refer to the following article "Analysis of the USCG Ballast Water Management (BWM) Extension Program"

President’s Executive Order on immigration (Part II)

The White House has reissued its executive order on immigration. It has been drafted with arguably a more narrow set of provisions.  One clear point is the US will honour visas of any type that are already issued, which arguably resolves to some degree our initial concerns re: mariners seeking shore leave and/or embarkation/disembarkation.  CSA’s advice to shipowners is the same as before: to effect crew changes outside US ports where possible.

Crude Oil/LNG Carriage Mandates for US Flag Vessels (HR 1240 – The Energizing American Maritime Act)

In general, the above-mentioned bill would require a certain percentage of LNG and crude oil exports to be transported on US flag vessels as follows:

  • 15% of LNG and crude exports for the years 2020 through 2024
  • 30% of LNG and crude exports for the years 2025 and beyond

An additional requirement in the bill requires, as a condition of the permit, to export LNG, the permittee provides “opportunities” for US mariners to “receive experience and training necessary for them to become credentialed in working on” an LNG vessel.  While not specifying in detail what this text would practically require, it is expected that it would be interpreted as requiring billets to be assigned on permittee’s ships for US mariners to receive the necessary experience to receive that credential likely in the form of supernumerary positions.

STCW 2010 Amendments

The US followed IMO’s recommendation to delay enforcement of the STCW 2010 Amendments until July 1 2017. This delayed enforcement applies to the 2010 STCW Amendments ONLY and to US Flag ships and foreign flagged ships calling US ports. When other STCW related deficiencies are identified, USCG will take control actions as appropriate.  USCG will review STCW 2010 amendments during examinations and note any deficiencies found but enforcement action will not be taken.

Internationally, it is the Port State which the vessel is calling on, to decide whether or not they follow the IMO recommendation to delay enforcement. Hence, ships with crew that do not currently fully comply with the STCW 2010 amendments should be aware of this when calling foreign ports.

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