Following last week’s end of the IMO BWM Convention ratification “saga”, the word “chaos” reappeared in the articles, published in the maritime websites. It is clear that the uncertainty created over years of contradicting decisions of the regulatory bodies, the shipowners associations resistance to accept the introduced regulations, the BWTS makers’ and testing laboratories’ dubious practices and the resulting lack of BWTS real life operation cannot disappear overnight with the ratification. Presently, there are no USCG type approved systems, extensions are being granted by USCG in a non-consistent way and the G8 guidelines revision is pending, providing the grounds for owners to feel insecure with any selected strategy, makers struggling to prove themselves as reliable solution providers and all the rest of the involved parties (Classification Societies, engineering houses, shipyards) laying in between, unable to assist in fostering proper solutions. There is no doubt that the various parties will keep on the same policy and focusing on the chaotic past, the problem will remain and there are losses and misery ahead for almost all the parties involved. We believe that – opposite to what has been experienced so far – all parties should work positively and play their role in a way that uncertainty disappears within the next few months:
- G8 guidelines revision: it is imperative that the next MEPC finalizes the revision. It is further necessary that those BWTS which receive the USCG type approvals will automatically be accepted as IMO type approved under the new regime.
- Following the above, regarding the existing IMO type approval certificates, they must be accepted for at least a short term phase out period of about 5 years, after installation onboard. Old tonnage may be fitted with those previously certified (and probably low priced) systems, harmonizing their use as AMS systems, providing a further 5 years extension for the USCG imposed requirements.
- Owners should demand solutions in the lines of the above proposal and commit themselves in proceeding with installations in order that the whole market is warmed with the necessary funding for proceeding with new certification and the resulting motivation and means for investing in improvement.
If during the next few months the above (or similar) positive actions take place, there will be certainty about the timeline and options available for all parties to properly plan and materialize their policies. Owners will be in position to decide on their compliance (or non-compliance) policy for their ships, on a ship by ship basis, with various options available, all of them having clear cost and regulatory compliance validity. Consequently, all other parties involved will follow, providing Owners with products and services to support the particular option selected. Then, nobody can claim that BWMC related requirements, and especially the retrofit requirements, lead Owners into a chaotic situation.