What is Content of the Ballast Water Management Plan?

At the beginning of each BWMP, wording should be included to reflect the regulations which are relevant for the intended compliance, and should contain a brief introduction for the ship’s crew, explaining the need for ballast water management, and the importance of accurate record keeping.

As required by the BWMC, the following notes have to be included:

This Ballast Water Management Plan has been approved by the Administration and no alteration or revision shall be made to any part of it without the prior approval of the Administration. National Regulations in the Annex are not subject to approval and should be updated independently from class by the master onboard.

This Ballast Water Management Plan may be inspected on request by an authorized authority.

  1. Ship specific particulars

The following data should be included:

    • Ship’s name
    • Ship type
    • IMO number
    • Classification society and registration number
    • Call sign
    • Flag
    • Port of registry
    • Owner
    • Gross tonnage
    • Main dimensions
    • Total ballast water capacity
    • and capacity of ballast pumps
    • Total number of segregated ballast tanks on board, capacities, centres of gravity, max. free surface moments
    • Units used for ballast measurement (metric)
    • Appointed BWM officer (designation/rank of officer)
    • Other ship specific information relevant for BW operations
  1. Plans and diagram(Tank arrangement and capacities)

The BWMP has to include a plan and profile of the ship or a schematic drawing showing the ballast tank arrangement. A table is to be included, showing for each tank the applicable BWE methods and the available ballast water pumps. A second table is to be also included showing the rated and if applicable the reduced capacity pumps available for ballast water management.

  1. Piping and pumping arrangements

A piping diagram of the ballast system and a layout diagram of the ballast control system are to be included. The diagrams have to show the valve positions as well as identification number, position and capacity of each ballast pump. For vessels with unusual arrangement of air pipe heads or overflows such as, but not only, common air pipes, or air pipe heads arranged on closed deck, a drawing or diagram sufficiently clarifying such arrangements are to be included. If the vessel should be equipped with BWMS, it should be clearly indicated in the ballast system diagrams.

  1. Ballast water sampling points

A list or set of diagrams shall clearly show sampling and access points in pipelines and tanks, so that the responsible officer can quickly assist port state control to obtain the required ballast water and/or sediment samples.

A note should be added that sampling of ballast water is primarily a matter for the authorized authority, and there is unlikely to be any need for crew members to take samples except at the express request, and under the supervision, of the authorized authority.

  1. Safety considerations

In the BWMP it should be pointed out that various circumstances may affect the ship safety during the ballast water exchange process. Ballast water exchange should only be carried out if it has been demonstrated to be safe, especially in terms of structural strength and stability. Attention has to be paid, but not limited to:

        • Weather conditions
        • Officer and crew training
        • Free surface effects and sloshing loads in slack tanks
        • Maintenance of sufficient stability according to trim and stability booklet
        • Permissible seagoing strength limits of shear force and bending moments according to trim and stability booklet
        • Minimum forward and aft draughts with respect to slamming and propeller immersion
        • Bridge visibility
        • In the BWMP information on safety measures and precautions to be observed during tank entry for control or sediment management have to be included .
  1. Weather

The BWMP has to include a list which identifies circumstances under which ballast water exchange should not be undertaken (e.g. sea state, wind speed) assisting the master in the decision whether ballast water exchange can be safely carried out en route or not. It has to be pointed out that the decision whether ballast water exchange should be conducted rests in the responsibility of the ship’s master.

Areas affected by seasonal heavy weather (typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones) or icing conditions should be avoided as far as possible and other shipping routes chosen.

  1. Officer and crew training

This section provides information needed to ensure that appropriate crew and officer training can be carried out before starting a journey. The following points should be familiar to all personnel responsible for the BWE operation:

      • The ship’s pumping system in detail, including all arrangements of air and overflow pipes for coordination of the crew working on deck, the pumps involved;
      • Air pipe heads are not to be used for BWE purposes unless specifically type approved
      • Functional design of air pipe heads approved for the flow-through BWE method and of overflow pipes (bypass arrangement, blockage of air/overflow pipes, freezing or unintentional closure should be kept under surveillance);
      • Knowledge of expected time spans for ballast water exchange at sea (this requires knowledge of the ships’ operational plan, the routing and the time schedule for passages and ports)
      • Different methods of ballast water exchange, the risks involved and possible consequences for the ships’ stability and strength and the advantages of each method, the possibility of using treatment alternatives or ballast water retention.
      • Ballast pump capacity restrictions, if any.
      • Procedures for recording, sampling and sounding to provide a proper record as required in the regulations.
      • Procedures for safe entry into ballast water tanks for control or sediment removal.
  1. Free surface effects and sloshing loads in slack tanks 

This section informs the responsible personnel for BWE about the negative influence of the free surface effect. It should explicitly inform about the tanks or tank pairs with the greatest free surface moments and should include information about possible measures to reduce the negative effect such as selection of suitable BWE method and retention on board.

The sections has to include safety warnings on ballast water transfer or exchange operations, which can generate significant structural loads by sloshing action in partially filled tanks. If operations include partially filled tanks, consideration should be given to carrying out the operation in favourable sea conditions such that the risk of structural damage is minimized.

  1. Stability considerations 

In this section information on the stability limits applicable to the vessel is to be included, such as the minimum required GM as function of the draught and the corresponding trim range according to the stability booklet. Compliance with the stability limits considering the free surface effects should be assured for every stage of the voyage.  Information on the required bridge visibility as function of draught and trim should be included in this section.

  1. Strength considerations

In this section information on the strength limits applicable to the vessel in regard of longitudinal and torsional strength and approved minimum forward draft is to be included. Compliance with the approved strength limits is to be assured for every stage of the voyage. Additional considerations regarding the effects of tank over pressurization are to be included in this section

  1. Loading instrument  

As far as applicable to the selected exchange method the officer of any ship should be advised to precalculate the stability and strength curves for every step during a ballast water exchange operation using a loading instrument on board.

  1. Procedures for managing ballast water

This section gives guidance on ballast handling procedures. The preferred method or methods of ballast water handling should be stated here, e. g. ballast water exchange at sea through sequential method, flow-through method, dilution method, ballast water treatment or discharge to reception facilities.The section has to inform about precautionary practices for avoiding unnecessary discharge of ballast water and minimizing the uptake of aquatic organisms and sediments.The vessel’s staff should be familiar with the requirements of the port authorities with respect to ballast water and sediment management and treatment procedures, including information that will be needed to obtain entry clearance.A ballast handling plan for a voyage with ballast should be prepared in advance.

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Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.