MARPOL allows water in cargo tanks for rafting and hydrostatic pressure testing

At the recent MEPC 49 session, IMO agreed with the joint INTERTANKO and OCIMF view that rafting and hydrostatic testing should be added to the list of the "exceptional cases” set out in regulation 13(3) and the Unified Interpretation 4.1.1., which detail the circumstances in which water may be filled into cargo tanks.

Although the water filled in cargo tanks for rafting or hydrostatic testing is not strictly speaking ballast water, a possible interpretation of MARPOL regulation 13(3) could claim that these cases are in breach of the Convention. INTERTANKO and OCIMF made MEPC 49 aware that these operations have always been part of the industry’s practices and part of the Class Survey regulations. Whilst the new SOLAS provisions for permanent means of access for inspection might be seen as an alternative to rafting, there are no alternatives available for existing ships or for hydrostatic testing. INTERTANKO and OCIMF have acknowledged that tankers will record such activity in their Oil Record Book in accordance with Regulations 9 and 15 of MARPOL Annex I, and thus the practice will meet international requirements. We will revert with the official IMO language on this agreement when it is available.

Contact: Dragos Rauta