Optimarin undertakes a retrofit installation of its revised IMO G8 ballast water treatment system to a military vessel
In general, military vessels, including Coast Guard vessels, are not held to IMO regulations on pollution. Therefore, it is entirely voluntarily that the Norwegian Coast Guard has retrofitted a ballast water treatment system to 2005-built, 2,189-dwt patrol vessel KV Harstad.
“Even the vessels that don’t have to install a ballast water treatment system install Optimarin,” said Optimarin’s project manager Tonje Olafsen, “That speaks volumes for our reputation. We have been exclusively focused on this specialist niche longer than anyone else – since 1994 in fact – so shipowners and operators know they can trust both our team and technology.
“That is obviously something that appeals to Coast Guards, who operate as true industry role models, adhering to the very highest standards."
Mr Olafsen was speaking in the aftermath of Optimarin’s first project with the Norwegian Coast Guard (Kystvakten). Working together with the Westcon yard in Ølensvåg, West Norway, the Optimarin team installed one its UV-based systems on patrol vessel KV Harstad.
“The efficacy of our system is second to none,” noted Mr Olafsen, “and that was crucial in achieving the industry’s first full approval with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in 2016. That really demonstrated we were leading the world in terms of compliance and, as a result, Coast Guard orders followed. The USCG itself chose Optimarin technology for its latest fleet renewal programme, with its first newbuild Medium Endurance Cutters set to launch from Florida’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group next year. We are proud to have installed systems with the Dutch, Danish and now Norwegian Coast Guards, too. We see it as the ultimate endorsement.”
The retrofit installation on KV Harstad, completed in early November, marks Optimarin’s first since obtaining revised IMO G8 certification in October. This is crucial for owners racing to install systems in the next few years, as the new approval is central to overall compliance with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Systems code.
“Although the revision does not apply to units already fitted, it is mandatory for the many thousands that must be installed prior to the final compliance date of 2024 (for those vessels that have delayed International Oil Pollution Surveys),” explained Optimarin’s executive vice president, sales and marketing Tore Andersen.
“That means it is essential for owners and operators to ensure the technology they choose has revised G8 certification. Not the promise of certification, or pending certification, but actual cast iron, verifiable compliance. Choosing the wrong system at this stage is a very unfortunate, time-consuming and expensive mistake to make,” he said.
Somewhat unusually in the traditional shipyard segment, Westcon Yards has the ability to operate as a one-stop-shop – catering not only for yard duties but also handling all engineering work, from initial 3D scanning and planning, through to prefabrication of all necessary piping and final installation.
“That offers a huge advantage,” said Westcon Yards’ project manager Lasse Åsbø, “It means the same engineers and foremen can be involved on a project from start to finish – giving them full insight – while the seamless way we take the installation from the drawing board right through to final fitting makes progress faster, smoother and more efficient in terms of time and resources.”
Mr Åsbø said the collaboration with the Optimarin team was excellent while the modular technology was comparatively easy to fit within the tight vessel constraints.
“Space is always a challenge in this kind of retrofit, especially when, as in this case, the customer wanted the unit concentrated in one specific area,” Mr Åsbø noted. “That said, the simplicity and (small) size of Optimarin’s unit, our own engineering capability, and the close co-operation we enjoyed made the whole project run very smoothly.
For its part, Optimarin sees a busy period ahead, with customers extending far beyond the spectrum of Coast Guards. The company can provide products for ships up to around 50,000 dwt, said Mr Andersen. The company also has a co-operation agreement with Sunrui of China.
Optimarin has now sold over 1,000 of its own units, with approximately 700 installed and operational. The majority of current orders are for retrofits, signalling the industry’s final move towards ensuring existing fleets meet necessary regulatory requirements.
“The potential on the horizon is immense,” said Mr Andersen. “Despite the current pandemic, orders have remained healthy and we see real growth in 2021, followed on by a peak period extending through 2022 and 2023. After that we will see business building on the aftersales and servicing side. That is another essential offer for a company that sees itself as a close partner rather than just a supplier.”
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