IMO releases Guidance on Ballast Water Exchange

At this week’s Maritime Safety Committee meeting (MSC 79) at the IMO in London, a draft circular was approved providing precautionary advice to masters when undertaking ballast water exchange operations. This is in advance of the Guidelines which are being developed by the IMO to supplement the International Convention on Invasive Species in Ships’ Ballast Water.

Because the Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange are still under development, and due to the importance of this matter in terms of crew and vessel safety, the Committee agreed that an advance circular should be sent to masters advising them that there may be periods during ballast exchange in which the criteria for propeller immersion, minimum draught forward and/or trim and bridge visibility (SOLAS V/22), cannot be met.

Advice in the circular suggests that masters should be informed, by means of an appropriate note in the Ballast Water Management Plan, on the nature of the transitory non-compliance together with any additional planning required, together with details of adequate precautionary steps which should be taken.

While also ensuring that the manoeuvrability of the vessel is not impaired during ballast water exchange, the master must also take the decision to proceed with such exchange only when the ship is in open water, the sea state and weather conditions are suitable, and the traffic density is low. Furthermore, an enhanced navigational watch is recommended.

Click hereto download the draft circular from the INTERTANKO website.

Contact: Tim Wilkins