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Ballast water operations

Ballast water operations

2.15.1 General

Ballast Water Management has become a matter of international concern. The Master is advised to obtain detailed information for all countries of call or passage to ensure compliance with national legislation and international recommendations such as the IMO Resolution on Guidelines for the control and management of ship’s ballast water to minimize the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens (A20/Res.868). Non-compliance with national legislation may result in large fines being imposed on the Master and the vessel’s officers and delay to the vessel with costs being incurred and possible claims made by the charterers.

2.15.2 Automated cargo, ballast monitoring and control systems

For further details please refer to Gard Loss Prevention Circular 11-02: Automated Cargo, Ballast Monitoring and Control Systems.

Computerisation of vessel bridges and engine rooms is becoming more commonplace. Improper operation of advanced technology cargo and ballast monitoring and control systems can

  • lead to unintended listing
  • excessive stresses on the structure• loss of positive stability, which may result in • structural damage
  • pollution
  • damage to property on board and ashore.
  • detailed instructions, preferably in writing, should be given before commencing any such operations
  • proper and effective communication between the deck and engine room personnel is required.

Ballast water operations require careful planning and co-operation between deck and engine room personnel

Lack of regular inspections and breach of recommended testing and maintenance procedures can cause damage to cargo, ballast monitoring and control systems.

Section 7 of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code requires the Company to identify key shipboard operations that may have an impact on safety and pollution prevention. Procedures covering these operations must be documented and effectively implemented. These procedures include defining and assigning tasks to qualified personnel.

Sufficient training needs to be provided, for personnel responsible for the safe onboard operation, inspection and maintenance of such systems. The training and familiarisation requirements for joining personnel in respect of their responsibilities must be identified and fulfilled as required by the ISM Code and Code and Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW 95). The operation and inspection of equipment undertaken by inexperienced and/or personnel recently having joined the vessel should be directly supervised by responsible personnel until such time that the person concerned is sufficiently familiar with the operation and/or inspection of the system.

The Master should ensure that the personnel involved in the operation, inspection, repair or maintenance of such systems have a good understanding of any limitations of the system and are aware of the “distraction” factor with special emphasis on the false sense of security that such technologically advanced equipment may provide.

If, for example, the vessel’s actual draft readings differ from those indicated by the automated cargo and control system, the Master and personnel involved should immediately verify the cause of the difference and take corrective action. The measures taken need to be recorded in detail in the appropriate log.

2.15.3 Ballast water exchange at sea

Ballast water exchanges at sea may be necessary to prevent the introduction into the sea of unwanted aquatic organisms from the vessel’s ballast water and sediment discharges. Although there are no international regulations yet in force, many national regulations require

  • ballast water exchange prior to arrival
  • documented ballast water control procedures
  • production of a ballast water exchange report upon arrival.
  • cause critical situations, e.g. vessel’s stability • require procedures to be prepared by the Company.
  • prevention of over and under pressurisation of ballast tanks
  • free surface effects on stability
  • weather conditions
  • maintenance of adequate intact stability
  • permissible seagoing strength limits of shear forces, bending moments and torsional forces
  • maximum permitted draughts.

Failure to comply with the above regulations may result in large fines.

For further information on the prevention of the introduction of Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) please see section Pollution by ballast water.

Ballast water exchange at sea may

The Master is advised to strictly adhere to the procedures and safety precautions provided in the SMS.

Safety issues involved in such operations include

Any ballast water exchange must be carefully and constantly monitored and controlled, and contingency procedures should be in place to deal with any emergencies which may arise.

2.15.4 Ballast water exchange in freezing conditions

Ballast water exchange at sea in freezing weather conditions should be avoided as discharge arrangements, air pipes and ballast system valves may freeze and impair the entire operation and thus the safety of the vessel.

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