By using its own crew and local contractors, Seatruck found an economical solution to installation costs
Fitting a ballast water management system (BWMS) using ship staff and selected subcontractors “is a lot cheaper” than other installation options, according to Ben Coppack, fleet director at Seatruck Ferries. For an average of about £175,000 (US$246,000) per ship, the Irish Sea operator installed an Optimarin Ballast System (OBS) on each of five roro freight ferries. Installations began in November 2016 onboard the 5,300 dwt Seatruck Progress and continued until September 2017.
They are part of Seatruck’s fleet of 10 ships, which are grouped into three classes: 4,935 dwt, 5,193 dwt and 5,300 dwt. They serve Heysham and Liverpool on the UK mainland, Warren Point in Northern Ireland and Dublin in Ireland. It is that service to Dublin – an international destination – that made these installations necessary on the specific ships that operate that route although, at the time of writing in late March, Ireland has not yet ratified IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC).
Work was shared between the ships’ onboard crew and shore-based contractors while the ships stayed in service. But Mr Coppack said this approach was only possible because their trading pattern puts them in the same ports every day, allowing shore contractors to “come on board, measure up and go ashore.” For example, the crew carried out initial pipework – cutting it to fit and tacking it together on board – before it was taken ashore for welding and galvanising. It was then put back on board and fixed in place by the crew.
The OBS was also assembled in situ by the onboard staff. For four of the ships, the system was delivered as a set of components – such as the filter, UV tubes, flow meters and backflushing pump, Mr Coppack listed – and the crew used Optimarin’s manuals to assemble them. For the other ship, Seatruck bought a skid-mounted system that Optimarin had available from stock, although it needed to be broken down to get it into the vessel.
Installation was very straightforward, Mr Coppack said. “It’s just filters, pipes and pumps,” he pointed out, with just three layout arrangements needed, one for each of the three classes of ship. Nonetheless, Optimarin chief executive Tore Andersen was impressed by Seatruck’s achievement. “This is the first time I’ve heard of a shipowner installing this number of systems itself while its vessels are in service,” he said.
But that is only half the story, Mr Coppack said. As well as pipes, pumps and other components, there is also the electrical side of the installation. and he paid tribute to the SeaKing Group, which provided an electrical technician to travel with the ship to connect all the components. Wärtsilä SAM Electronics provided the control systems.
Mr Coppack chose a UV treatment system because of the limited space available and because it did not use any chemicals, which would add to its operating cost. The ships do not load much ballast compared with large oceangoing ships – only about 100-150 m3. But they do this twice each day, which is much more often than other ship types. So the total volume, and thus the amount of chemical that would be needed for some systems, is large.
The units are rated at around 330 m3/hr, and their power requirements were not excessive, Mr Coppack said. No upgrades to the ships’ generators were needed and using the BWMS has not had any impact on the power available to other consumers. “We have not had to modify our operation in any way,” he said.
Optimarin was chosen as a supplier because it has a lot of experience and because its Norway base was relatively local, compared with other potential suppliers, Mr Coppack told BWTT. In an Optimarin statement in October 2017 to mark the end of the retrofit programme, he acknowledged Optimarin’s systems and service, reporting that the supplier had responded quickly to queries. “We’re very pleased we took this approach,” he said at that time, “ensuring port state compliance and ballast water treatment reliability ahead of regulatory demands.”