Can shipyards rise to the retrofit rush?
Shipbuilders “are the least familiarised stakeholders” in the expected rush to fit ballast water management systems (BWMSs) to meet IMO’s extended deadline, according to one leading shipyard executive.
Dave Iwamoto, a senior executive at shipbuilder Japan Marine United and a council member of the Active Shipbuilding Experts’ Federation (ASEF), which brings together 10 Asia shipbuilding groups, was speaking in September 2017 at the International BWM Technology and Standardisation Forum organised by the Shipbuilding Information Center of China (SICC).
He told delegates that because many shipowners have delayed installing BWMSs, “not many shipyards have built up practical experience” or have the range of services needed to retrofit a BWMS. He also outlined a catalogue of potential difficulties that could be avoided with proper planning and effective communication between the many parties involved in a project, such as designers, suppliers, fitters and flag-state representatives.
Mr Iwamoto also stressed the need for care when handling BWMS components. They are more delicate than [the] equipment that shipbuilders normally handle, he said. “Particular care is needed for associated instrumentation, since any damage to this may not allow final commissioning work when time may be running out.”
Even before the equipment arrives at a yard, there may be delays caused by import rules. “If the work is done in one country with a BWMS purchased from another, customs regulations cannot be disregarded,” he said. And there will be no compensation for delays “caused by regulatory requirements beyond any commercial party’s responsibility.”
Given these potential difficulties, Mr Iwamoto said that a retrofit is more complex than a newbuilding installation and, if a retrofitted BWMS does not perform properly, it may also be more difficult to identify the cause. It might be due to unsuitable equipment or design, or poor workmanship, he said, with responsibility lying with the shipowner, engineering company, equipment manufacturer, shipyard or contractor.
Sembcorp fits 12 BWMS in 2017
Singapore yard Sembcorp has carried out ballast water management system (BWMS) retrofits as part of its Green Technology Retrofit (GTR) programme. Starting in February 2017, it fitted BWMSs on all three of ASEAN Cableship’s vessels and in November that year it fitted a UV BWMS on the seismic vessel Ramform Sovereign. Further installations brought the yard’s total number of ballast water-related projects during 2017 to 12.
The yard can offer its own unique BWMS, the Semb-Eco L-UV, which was developed jointly with Ecospec. It uses LED-UV irradiation and ultra low frequency electromagnetic waves in a combination that Ecospec reports “produces a highly-efficient non-chemical treatment system that consumes very low power”.
Sembcorp also has cooperation agreements with six other BWMS makers covering a range of technologies. They include Coldharbour Marine of the UK, which offers a gas lift diffusion system, and De Nora of Italy, whose Balpure BWMS uses electrolysis and electrochlorination.