The retrofitting of a BWMS is only the first stage in a lifelong relationship with the supplier, where ongoing operational support and maintenance is key
After retrofitting three sister ships in 2017, this year an Ecochlor Series 200 ballast water management system (BWMS) was fitted to a fourth 115,849 dwt crude oil tanker from the same fleet.
“Sisterships are very similar,” said Argo Navis Marine Consulting & Engineering co-founder Andreas Zontanos, integration engineer on the retrofit series. “In our experience, we have rarely faced differences of any significance. The variations are typically those specifically ordered by the ships’ buyers, but they are usually well-known before we start a retrofit project. I usually recommend that owners do not scan all the sisterships, as long as the technical staff is allowed to carry out basic checks on each vessel to verify locations set aside for the system installation.”
Mr Zontanos described the installation of the system on the fourth tanker as a typical engineering solution for an Ecochlor BWMS on a tanker with a conventional pump room: “Filters were arranged on pump room platforms and a new deckhouse was placed on one of the external funnel decks to accommodate the chemical tanks and chlorine dioxide (ClO2) generator. Key considerations that were taken into account included the ease in which the crew can provide maintenance and chemical resupply to the system.”
Incremental changes from ship to ship
The fourth tanker in the series benefitted from improvements learned from the retrofits to the first three vessels. Piping was re-routed due to placement difficulties that occurred on the installation of the first sistership retrofit. The location of the Ecochlor generator was moved to improve accessibility and the compressed air lines were upgraded to allow for better water draining prior to use.
“Over the past two years we have been the integration engineer for over 30 tanker installations with the Ecochlor BWMS and our experience has allowed us to make improvements from project to project, whether it is a sistership or not,” said Mr Zontanos.
At the first meeting with the supervisor at the Tuzla Shipyard in Turkey, the shipyard completion date was given as 22 working days, plus additional time for the commissioning. Prior to drydocking, prefabrications were completed on the piping, the deckhouse foundation and plates, as well as the chemical tanks and their containments. Upon arrival, the Ecochlor installation team inventoried and inspected all the BWMS parts to ensure that everything was in good condition.
The vessel was scheduled for drydock on 1 May 2018. Once the ship was in place, the port and starboard filters were lowered onto the ship by crane and placed into position. Scaffolding was built inside the pump room for the filters as well as for the treatment deckhouse on the main deck. The treatment deckhouse support and welding of the bulkheads continued and the tanks and generator were loaded onto the vessel.
“Delays can happen,” commented Mr Zontanos. “For example, we recommend that approximately 20% of the pipe spools not be fully prefabricated, since they often need to be adjusted in situ due to minor dimensional variations. Many shipyards select to prefabricate all the piping expecting to save time, but for the most part it adds to our schedule.”
During the system commissioning by Ecochlor, delays were incurred due to minor issues with network cabling associated with the system’s control panels, as well as other unforeseen interruptions due to the yard’s ongoing work on the vessel.
Due to these delays, the BWMS was not fully commissioned in time for the vessel’s scheduled undocking (10 May 2018). As a result, the vessel went to anchorage where the Ecochlor commissioning team completed its work.
“It is very important that the shipowner does not underestimate or shorten the time allowed for commissioning,” said Mr Zontanos. “Whatever is left undone during commissioning and testing may present problems for the ship in the future. In the next few years, when you will have many shipyards vying for retrofit projects, I expect that they will try to compete by decreasing the necessary required time in drydock. I only hope that this will not affect the commissioning time, as it is very important and absolutely required.”
Training of the crew is typically provided at the end of the shipyard period and includes instruction in a classroom setting with an expert technician. The technician explains the operation of the system and reviews safety procedures. Hands-on training is handled during the commissioning and during subsequent ballasting operations.
“We make an effort to attend the first full ballasting operation of each vessel following installation of the Ecochlor BWMS. This gives us an opportunity to provide additional crew training, observe further system operation and close any open issues,” commented Ecochlor service manager Max Hasson. “After leaving the shipyard in Turkey, the vessel commissioned in September 2017 was in Houston, Texas, USA, for her first cargo discharge operation. We boarded the vessel, observed a successful operation of the system, worked with the crew to ensure they had a good understanding of the BWMS and performed standard setpoint checks and calibration procedures to verify everything was working properly.”
One of the other sister vessels has had two service visits in the last 12 months. “In October we performed a similar first ballasting attendance onboard in Gdansk, Poland. We were able to adjust pressure control valve settings to improve operational performance and [we] made other adjustments that eliminated minor filter cavitation noted during commissioning. A second service call was arranged in April 2018 in Castellon, Spain. Problems had been reported with valve positioner operation. In addition to resolving these issues our technicians updated the system programs, performed standard inspections and made adjustments to improve overall system operation,” said Mr Hasson.
According to Ecochlor, shipowners with drydock slots in 2018 will find it is already too late to start the process of planning for a BWMS retrofit. Owners with drydock slots booked in 2019 or 2020 should consider ordering a system and engaging an engineering firm and shipyard.
It is important to note that after September 2019, all ships with an IOPP renewal with be obligated to install a ballast water treatment system.