Applicability: Vessels equipped with ballast water tanks and operating in U.S. waters, unless exempt from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) ballast water management regulations

LR has recently received reports of the USCG raising deficiencies on vessels not fitted with ballast water treatment systems, possibly caused by industry confusion between the IMO and US ballast water management requirements.

Owners and operators are reminded that vessels trading in US waters may be required to manage ballast using a treatment system at an earlier date compared to the IMO requirements, as outlined below:

A table showing IMO requirements for Ballast capacity, Date constructed and Compliance date for new vessels and existing vessels.

After the compliance dates shown above, the US regulations require vessels to comply with one of the following options: 

  • Use a Coast Guard-approved ballast water treatment system (BWTS);
  • Use an alternate management system (AMS), i.e. an IMO approved BWTS  [Note: Only valid for 5-years from compliance date];
  • Apply to the USCG for an extension to the compliance date by which the vessel must install a treatment system;
  • Use only water from a U.S. public water system (PWS);
  • Do not discharge BW into waters of the United States (includes the territorial sea as extended to 12 nautical miles from the baseline); or
  • Discharge to a facility onshore or to another vessel for purposes of treatment.

The US ballast water management requirements are unchanged by the recent changes to the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention, agreed at MEPC 71 (see Class News 16/2017).

For further information

For more information on the Ballast Water Management Convention, see the
IMO website

Lloyd’s Register guidance on ballast water management is available here

Alternatively, speak to one of our experts at your local Lloyd’s Register Group office