Ballast Water Treatment Systems – Check Your Charter Party, Says North P&I

Image Courtesy: IMO

Retrofitting vessels to comply with the upcoming BWM Convention may affect the vessels’ performance, Intercargo has warned. Areas that are most likely to be affected are ballast transfer performance and bringing increased power demands. As a result, North P&I Club has cautioned owners to check their charter parties.

Effect on Ballasting Transfer Rates

Intercargo highlights the probable reduction in a vessel’s ballasting capacity when retrofitting a ballast water treatment system. This drop in performance may be due to the unavailability of treatment systems that can match the throughput of the vessel’s ballast pumps as well as the filters introducing additional pressure drops in the system.

If a vessel’s ballasting/deballasting performance is reduced following the retrofit of a ballast water treatment system, then North recommends the vessel’s description is amended accordingly.

If the charter party remains unamended, a shipowner may be exposed to a charterer’s allegations of breach of warranty if delays are experienced as a result of the longer time needed for ballasting/deballasting.

Meeting New Power Demands

Intercargo also raises the possibility of a vessel being unable to meet the greater power demands of a treatment system. Electro-chlorination and UV systems require significant levels of power. For existing vessels, this demand would not have been factored in at the design stage.

The club reminds shipowners it is important to assess whether or not the vessel has the electrical capacity to power the cargo gear at the same time as the ballast water treatment plant. If the vessel’s power generation capacity prevents the operation of all of its cargo handling equipment when the treatment plant is in-line, this can result in delays to the cargo operations and lead to disputes, according to North.

Review the Vessel Description Clause

When installing a ballast water treatment system on an existing vessel, North stresses the importance of thinking about the potential impact on charter party warranties. The vessel description/warranties may need to be amended to reflect any change in the vessel’s performance.

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