As shipowners come under pressure from many environmental angles, they find that going into drydock is an especially stressful time.

The pressure is on.

The IMO amendments to the Ballast Water Convention are now in force. All ocean-going vessels are now compelled to retrofit ballast water treatment systems to meet the convention’s requirements and to do so by the next renewable survey.

50,000 by 2024

That means the world fleet, some 50,000 vessels will be fitted with treatment systems by September 2024. That’s a lot of installations over the next 48 months, even when the number of systems already installed is considered. 

But there’s also an additional pressure emerging  due to ship operators needing to meet the low sulphur fuel requirements, with some opting to install exhaust gas cleaning systems to do so.


Some large repair yards have seen their orderbook increase as vessels come in to have both systems (ballast water treatment systems and exhaust gas cleaning systems)  fitted during a single docking.

That is a lot of work to try and achieve during a two to three week docking window and why we at Optimarin have always advocated planning ahead and getting as much of the work done as early as possible.

With deadlines approaching, a retrofit bottleneck is now affecting the entire industry. Do not underestimate the time required.

Drydocks need to be well planned and orchestrated.  A normal drydock work list is usually long and detailed with contractors moving about al over the vessel, so when one adds not one,  but two new technologies to the mix, the challenges to get everything done in time are increased.


Luckily ballast water treatment system installation is not rocket science  – as a technology company that has secured all the type approvals needed to reassure owners, we have done all the rocket science needed. But while there is a large array of solutions to choose from, those that are at the top of the market, such as Optimarin, are designed to make it as easy as possible to be compliant with the rules and we pride ourselves on getting the system on the vessel as effectively as possible.

By getting as much of the work done ahead of time the docking will be as smooth as possible, and also allow the vessel to leave the drydock basin on time and get back into service when required.

In the coming months owners will see drydocking slots begin to fill up, and engineering companies that supply riding crews will find their backlog increase as the range of work requests expands.

All operators have a responsibility to keep their vessels compliant, and for the ballast water rules it states it must be by the next scheduled docking. That means planning ahead of course. 

The workload for engineers and shipboard personnel during a docking is hectic, especially when new piping and solutions are being installed.  But planning around your ballast water system means this does not need to add to the stress. Do your work early, plan early and make sure you understand the amount of time it will take to be as ready as possible for the moment your vessel is brought in for its survey.