Unluckily, a BWTS is a complicated unit as it is especially designed for each vessel, it comes with several different technologies, has different working ranges and different capacities.

All systems that shall be installed on vessels need to be have IMO approval and if you are sailing to USA, an approval from USCG is a requirement. Today over 70 systems are approved by IMO but only 12 systems are approved by USCG so far.

Up to 60.000 vessels needs to be retrofitted with BWTS between now and the end of 2024. Thus, If you want to assure that your vessels will get good quality systems on board you better act now! Or there might not be systems available for you...The peak year for installation is in 2022.

The USCG approval testing is the only 100% neutral test for BWTS. The test regime is tough and very detailed. It is also tests for Fresh water. The general design is evaluated and also user friendliness is evaluated. It is costly and takes time, however for a BWTS, the USCG type approval is a quality stamp!

When you look for your own BWTS, look only at those having the USCG Type approval even in cases it is not necessary for your vessels. Why? Because, it is not possible to evaluate over 70 systems thoroughly. The USCG certificates are easy to understand and very straight forward. The USCG type approval is very clear on systems limitations and that is what to look for. This will tell you which system is most suitable for your vessels.

Tips for selecting a BWTS

  • Select the systems with the most suitable operation options for your vessels.
  • Make a shortlist
  • Evaluate system price, CAPEX
  • The OPEX is related to the ships operation and ballasting pattern.
  • Get proper OPEX data from the selected system makers
  • Make your final system selection for the shortlist

10 steps needed for a retrofit project

The physical installation time is only the tip of the iceberg, it is what is lurking below that take time:

  1. System Selection (4-6 weeks)
  2. Negotiation and purchase (1-2 weeks)
  3. Ship Visit / 3D scanning (1-2 weeks)
  4. Design engineering (6-8 weeks)
  5. Manufacturing (16-18 weeks)
  6. Class Approval (3-4 weeks)
  7. System Delivery to Yard (4-6 weeks)
  8. Pre-Fabrication (3-5 weeks)
  9. Installation (2-3 weeks)
  10. Commissioning (1-2 weeks)

The selection of the maker is important as well. Factors that need to be considered during the negotiation and purchase are:

  • Negotiate purchase price / delivery times
  • Identify critical stages of contract performance
  • Installation / Commissioning
  • Location of delivery
  • Responsibilities/Expectations
  • Warranties
  • Engineering

3D scanning and preparation are required for integration with the ships drawings. This phase includes the pre-engineering which will identify suggested location of the system components. In this phase, makers need to control that the suggestions made in Pre – Engineering are possible, determine final location of system components and identify key concerns for the installation.

During the design engineering, integrate system with ships drawings, develop drawing package for Class Approval, follow up Class Approval of drawings and make eventual adjustments accordingly and lastly, make material list for the Shipyard.

Manufacturing time will wary from maker to maker and is likely to be influenced by market demand and order books. Fabrication of pipes, spool pieces etc. is the shipyards responsibility. It is based on the material list from the system maker or design company and based on the Class Approved design.

The delivery terms are agreed in the contract, however it is critical to establish delivery location well in advance to account for shipping times. The transport time from Europe to China is around 5 weeks!

Pre-fabrication of pipes, spool pieces etc. at yard will be based on Class Drawing Approval. Good engineering plans and highly developed work scopes will increase efficiency of prefabrication. Pre-fabrication is one of the key factors to a rapid successful installation. Also, lack of proper engineering and well-designed work scopes may extend the installation period.

Commissioning is typically done by Manufacturer or certified agent and it includes time for crew training and operational familiarization as well as Class Acceptance trials.

The total timeline after system selection is estimated at 37-39 weeks! After this considerable time, the BWTS is successfully installed and ready to run! Therefore, the better you plan, the shorter time you have!


Above text is an edited version of Mr. Leif Erik’s Caspersen presentation during the SAFETY4SEA Conference in Hamburg

View his video presentation here

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


Leif Eric Caspersen, International Sales Director ERMA FIRST

Leif Erik Caspersen is the International Sales Director of ERMA FIRST. He is specialized in Business to Business marketing and industrial sales. He has worked for several years in marketing and selling products to the offshore and land based industry. During the past 20 years he has been actively involved in the marine pints and coating business . He acted as the Vice President and Chairman of Jak. J. Alveberg AS, one of the oldest paint companies in Norway, promoting specialized coatings designed for refurbishing of ballast tanks on older ships, among many other applications . As the Managing Director in Orca Maritime AS, a company specialized in innovative and long lasting solutions for corrosion protection , he succeed in introducing products for offshore installations, hull and superstructures on ships. Since 2006 , he has been actively involved in the ballast water treatment industry promoting systems all over the world. Since 2014 , he joined the ERMA FIRST team, leading the international sales divisio