3/7/2018: A closer look at NVIC 01-18 and BWMS compliance date extensions

The Coast Guard recently published Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-18, “Ballast Water Management For Control Of Non-Indigenous Species In Waters Of The United States.” The purpose of this blog is to highlight guidance provided in NVIC 01-18 regarding requests for compliance extensions in accordance with 33 CFR §151.1513 or 33 CFR §151.2036.

Vessel owners and operators are reminded that there are several acceptable methods for managing ballast water listed in 33 CFR 151.1510 or 151.2025. For vessel owners and operators choosing to install a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS), there are six Coast Guard type approved BWMS at this time. The type approved BWMS cover nearly all classes of vessels and are compatible with a broad range of operational requirements.

Per 33 CFR §151.1513 or 33 CFR §151.2036, vessel owners/operators may request an extension of the vessel’s compliance date. The Coast Guard will typically grant an extension to a vessel’s compliance date only in those cases where the master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of a vessel can document that, despite all efforts, compliance with the requirements under 33 CFR §151.1510 or §151.2025 is not possible. Documentation that establishes this need may include information why existing type approved BWMS are not compatible, are unavailable or cannot be installed before the compliance date. In the last instance, the supporting information may include proof of acquisition of a type approved BWMS, and installation on a specific date. In general, extensions will not be granted for more than 12 months from the vessel’s current compliance date.

No extensions will be granted to a vessel with an installed alternate management system (AMS) and no extensions will be granted to install an AMS. However, the Coast Guard will consider granting extensions to vessels that intend to install a BWMS that is expected to receive type approval in the near future. These requests should include specific documentation clearly indicating the system is expected to receive Coast Guard type approval within 12 months of the vessel’s current compliance date. Documentation should include proof from the manufacturer or independent lab that shows they have applied for Coast Guard type approval, proof of acquisition of the BWMS, and proof of arrangements for installation on a specific date not to exceed 12 months from the vessel’s current compliance date.

Selecting a BWMS prior to Coast Guard type approval carries the risk that the system may not achieve type approval by the date listed in the extension. Vessel owners and operators will not be granted further extensions if these systems do not become Coast Guard type approved. Furthermore, as this system is not installed as an AMS, the 5 year period normally allowed for AMS use beyond the vessel’s compliance date is not applicable.

The Coast Guard recognizes the dynamic nature of vessel operations and scheduling. In some cases, scheduled dry-docks move or “slip” due to various reasons. Currently, a number of vessels have been granted extensions until the “next scheduled dry-dock” after a certain date, which was aligned with an upcoming dry-dock date. In some instances, the upcoming dry-dock date slips and a vessel owner/operator requests the extension be amended to reflect that slip. If a new extension is granted, it will likely be for 2.5 years from the date of the originally scheduled dry-dock date, rather than extending until the date of “next scheduled dry-dock.” This should give the owner/operator sufficient time to arrange for the installation of a type approved system while the vessel is out-of-service during the next regularly scheduled maintenance or repair period. For example, consider a vessel that has already been issued an extension until the next scheduled dry-dock after April 1, 2018, but the upcoming dry-dock “slips” by 30 days and is now scheduled for May 1, 2018. The vessel owner/operator may request a new extension letter to reflect that slip. However, if the Coast Guard grants the extension, the new compliance date will be October 1, 2020, which is 2.5 years from April 1, 2018.

As stated in 33 CFR §151.1513 or 33 CFR §151.2036, extension requests need to be received by the Coast Guard at least 12 months prior to a vessel’s compliance date. This ensures that the vessel remains in compliance during the administrative process. The Coast Guard recommends vessel owners or operators submit extension requests no more than 18 months in advance of a vessel’s compliance date.

Please consult the Coast Guard’s website for up to date information regarding the ballast water management regulations. As a reminder, compliance date extension requests and other inquiries should be sent to environmental_standards@uscg.mil.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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