The dispute over funding a wall to prevent aliens entering the USA has delayed approval of products designed to prevent aliens entering the USA
In my first comment this year, I listed five predictions of themes I thought would dominate 2019. The first was the expectation that the US Coast Guard would increase the number of inspections.
"2019 could be a record-breaking year for USCG detentions," I said at the time.
Well, that prediction already looks busted.
What I failed to consider in my forecast was a record-long shutdown within parts of the US government. As part of the US military, US Coast Guard is funded by the federal government, which had to suspend payments to service personnel during its more than month-long wait for funding.
The coast guard continued to operate in its first responder role, an "essential service" deemed necessary for public safety, with USCG servicemen and women paid upon the enactment of funding appropriations. As USCG commandant Admiral Karl Schultz said in a video message to his sailors "Thank you for continuing to stay on the watch."
President Trump appointee Admiral Schultz also included a strong message for those behind the shutdown "I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on… donations to get through day-to-day life as service members."
The furloughing and delayed pay associated with the shutdown also extended to the civilian scientists and technicians engaged in the BWMS type-approval process. As Ecochlor chief executive Steve Candito explained to me during the shutdown, civilian staff who have not been paid for their work or are placed on unpaid leave, have skills that are valuable in the private sector. Some may have left during the shutdown, and others may be thinking of leaving if the government shutdown resumes. The emergency bill passed to secure funding and bring a temporary end the shutdown expires in just over a week, on 15 February 2019.
If, for instance, the scientists and technicians involved in analysing samples recovered from detentions seek employment elsewhere, that process will face further delay.
For ballast water treatment manufacturers, the biggest impact of the shutdown was the suspension of non-essential activities, which included the type-approval process for ballast water treatment systems (BWTSs).
This includes those manufacturering companies that already have type-approval certification but seek amendments. Others are partway through the process and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in testing and laboratory work. Any return on this investment could face the potential for ongoing delays until longer-term funding measures are secured.
On one level, I should not be surprised by this latest twist in the saga of ballast water technology. The ballast water treatment industry is one that has had more than its far share of false starts and interruptions.
My only worry now is that I gave five predictions – I wonder how long the others survive.
Ballast water management is one of the topics at the forthcoming Asian Tanker Conference to be held at the Marina Bay Expo Centre in Singapore in February 2019.