Specifically, following the 1st Jan. 2016 entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 13 nitrogen oxide (NOx) Tier III standard, no vessel built with a keel laid date on or after 1 Jan. 2016 with an IMO Tier II engine could operate in either ECA after operating on the waters of another party to MARPOL Annex VI.

However, in 2016, the US Coast Guard became aware of an unintended impact on ships not intended for service within the North American and US Caribbean Sea Emission Control Areas (ECA), needing to transit the ECA simply to get to or from a shipyard.

This meant that ships which were never intended for use within the ECA, and therefore not the target of the Tier III requirements, would become subject to the Tier III standard by reason of transiting the ECA to get to or from a shipyard. The USCG, working with its domestic and IMO partners, submitted a proposal to IMO to amend Annex VI to allow vessels with a Tier II compliant engine to enter and depart the ECA, provided the vessel was proceeding to or departing from a shipyard or other repair facility located in the ECA.

The amendments were adopted on 7 July 2017, and they are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2019. USCG underlines that:

  • In order to be able to rely on the exemption to qualify for transit of the ECA with a Tier II engine, a vessel must sail directly to or from the shipyard or other repair facility without loading or unloading cargo during the exemption.
  • Vessels wishing to enter either US ECA that meet the above requirements must notify the cognizant Captain of the Port prior to entry into the ECA.

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