In 2018, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), provided provisional figures from the class society’s 2018 survey of owners’ operational experiences with Ballast water treatment system (BWTS), updating a similar survey carried out in 2017. The survey results then included responses from 37 European owners representing 261 installations – with the survey ongoing in Asia and the US – compared to previous year’s 27 owners worldwide representing 220 installations. While 5% of systems were deemed inoperable, a massive 44% reported ‘problematic operations’.
The common reasons cited were:
- Improper preventive maintenance
- Non-compliant components were being used as spares resulting in faulty operation
- The ship’s operating profile was not properly considered while selecting the BWTS.
While the former two are issues that can be addressed by the ship owners, the latter is an issue where they need specialist support from an engineering company. Inadequate due-diligence in proper selection of BWTS often results in expensive operational problems and potential long-term reputation damage to the operators. Plug-and-play is not a realistic option and many ship operators have not understood the huge risks of choosing a treatment system that is simply not fit for purpose.
A whole range of operational variables must be carefully assessed, on board the ship and relating to its operation. For example, ultra violet systems can struggle in waters of high turbidity; and electro-chlorination may not be as effective in waters of low temperature and/or low salinity. In both cases, the treatment system may require significantly more power which may or may not be available on-board ship.
A major concern is the equipment sizing. The general industry practice is to size the BWTS based on the rated capacity of the existing ballast system. However, the worst-case operational scenario needs to be considered where the BWTS will be required to handle the maximum capacity. This requires an engineering review of the system as a whole. If the installed BWTS is not of sufficient capacity, remedial measures with minimum modifications have to be thought of.
As an engineering company which has successfully executed almost half a century of projects in BWTS retro-fits covering thirteen makers, SEDS stands tall as the consultant of choice to help out the ship owners. The in-house capabilities which have over the years delivered complete designs of ships ranging from passenger ships to defense ships arm the company with the ability to look at installed ship systems and designs as a whole and provide the right solution.