3/8/2018: MARPOL ANNEX VI – Removal of unintended impact to shipyards by North American Emissions Control Area implementation

In 2016, the Coast Guard became aware of an unintended impact on ships not intended for service within the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emission Control Areas (ECA), needing to transit the ECA simply to get to or from a shipyard.

Specifically, following the Jan. 1, 2016 entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 13 nitrogen oxide (NOx) Tier III standard, no vessel built with a keel laid date on or after Jan. 1, 2016 with an IMO Tier II engine could operate in either ECA after operating on the waters of another party to MARPOL Annex VI. This meant that ships which were never intended for use within the ECA, and therefore not the target of the Tier III requirements, would become subject to the Tier III standard by reason of transiting the ECA to get to or from a shipyard. The USCG, working with its domestic and International Maritime Organization (IMO) partners, submitted a proposal to IMO to amend Annex VI to allow vessels with a Tier II compliant engine to enter and depart the ECA provided the vessel was proceeding to or departing from a shipyard or other repair facility located in the ECA.

The amendments were adopted July 7, 2017, and they are expected to enter into force Jan. 1, 2019. In order to be able to rely on the exemption to qualify for transit of the ECA with a Tier II engine, a vessel must sail directly to or from the shipyard or other repair facility without loading or unloading cargo during the exemption. Vessels wishing to enter either U.S. ECA that meet the above requirements must notify the cognizant Captain of the Port prior to entry into the ECA.

Please see Resolution MEPC.286(71) for the text of the amendments.

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