By Suzanne Black, financial director at Calvey Marine Ltd

After years of uncertainty and conflicting opinions, it seems that ship owners now have no choice but to invest in ballast water management systems. The Convention was ratified in September 2016 which is good news for the marine ecosystem but perhaps not such good news for ship owners who will be faced with large capital costs.

Currently around five billion tonnes of ballast water is moved across the world’s oceans every year and the Convention will enforce ships to conduct a ballast water exchange and meet concentration-based discharge standards at ports with tanks being 99% free of living organisms and pathogens.

The new legislation has resulted in ships being booked to dock early so that decisions can be delayed as long as possible whilst the industry learns more about the different systems and their merits and disadvantages. There are presently several thousand BWT’s operational worldwide, with most of these installed on new ships. However, this will quickly change and an estimated 60,000 vessels are expected to be fitted with systems in the next five years. Going forward, ships docking for routine maintenance will increasingly need to have a type approved ballast waste management system installed. Each system seems to claim advantages and the cost of surveys, manufacturer, and installation all need to be considered.

Currently there are about 90 units available to choose from, all competing in this relatively new market and so superintendents and ship owners have a lot of consider. To complicate matters further, there is still uncertainty as to which systems will meet the regulations. The vessels will need to comply with the implementation schedule that is linked to the ship’s build date and the amount of ballast carried on the ship.

In the midst of the uncertainty, one thing is clear and that is the ambivalence is over and ship owners now need to research and make informed decisions. The installation of a system should take less than a week, but each unit will need to be unique and individually designed and therefore the manufacturer’s lead time will need to be considered. We feel that 2017 will undoubtedly be a busy year for BWT and shipyards will also benefit as there is a surge of approved systems and a rush to survey and install. We are advising our clients to plan their docking schedules early to ensure that there is availability at their chosen shipyard.


Calvey Marine works with the GloEn-Patrol BWS of PanAsia, which takes advantage of Filter and UV units to effectively disinfect harmful organisms without generating any toxic substances during ballast exchange and minimising the sediment in the ballast tank. The filter unit maximises the efficiency of disinfecting the UV unit by improving the transmission of UV light. We are able to offer a complete project management service including advising and negotiating the purchase of the system, arranging the installation and ongoing maintenance, as well as providing the necessary documentation. We are constantly monitoring the legislation and guidelines as they are issued so that we can give advice and support to our existing and new clients.

Suzanne Black is the financial director at Calvey Marine Ltd, a worldwide shipbuilding and repair agency and the sole UK agent of Drydock World Group, PaxOcean Group and Lisnave Shipyard.