Reed Smith Client Alerts

Operationally, ship owners will be well acquainted with the majority of requirements set out in the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the Convention). Save for ballast water management systems (BWMS), these requirements have been in force since the Convention came into effect on 8 September 2017.


Initially, the IMO aligned the date for compliance with the BWMS requirements set out in Regulation D-2 with the renewal of the International Oil Pollution Prevention (the IOPP) certification. To extend the compliance deadline up to 2022, many owners chose to de-harmonise the renewal of IOPP certificates and carry out the IOPP renewal survey earlier (or as close to 8 September 2017 as possible). The practice did not prove useful when, at the 71st session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2017, the deadline for the installation of the BWMS was delayed, providing owners with a fleet compliance timeframe of between 8 September 2019 and 7 September 2024. In effect, those who de-harmonised, and carried out the IOPP renewal survey shortly before 8 September 2017 risked losing two additional years for compliance. To assist owners, some flag states, such as the UK, allowed re-harmonisation.

It would be rather unsympathetic to criticise owners for trying to delay the installation process. In the case of retrofits, the costs of installing BWMS are largely dependent on the individual technical specifications of ships, with reported estimates ranging from US$1 million to US$5 million per ship. From owners’ perspective, any additional time helps with the cost absorption.

Putting the installation off until as close to the ultimate 2024 deadline as possible may, however, result in practical difficulties.