Navigating new regulations with ease and peace of mind

Source: press release, 20 January 2020

Gaute Fossmark with the NavStation (photo: NAVTOR)
Gaute Fossmark with the NavStation (photo: NAVTOR)

With the latest rules, the IMO 2020 sulphur cap, having come into force on 1 January 2020, and a raft of decarbonisation measures expected in the near future, owners need to know what regulations apply where.

Other regional regulations, such as discussions about a new Mediterranean emissions control area (ECA), have started the process for an all Mediterranean agreement to match those in the Baltic and the USA, and it is these regional rules that make the regulatory map complex for vessel operators.

In addition to the international and regional rules, there are an increasing number of port rules that can vary widely, meaning masters have a tough time knowing which regulations apply at the destinations to which they are travelling, as well as at ports on a particular voyage.

It is important for masters to be aware of local regulations. For example, Port Everglades in the US prohibits the discharge of ballast water, including the discharge of treated ballast water within the port. Whereas in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, above the water line hull cleaning and painting is prohibited, as is boiler and economiser blow down, grey water discharge and underwater hull cleaning.

Failure to meet these complex regulations can be costly with severe fines, particularly in the EU and US waters, therefore need for clarity is real. NAVTOR’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Total Marine Solutions (TMS) offers owners and operators the kind of clarity that is needed to avoid falling afoul of regulatory authorities.

Complex regulations often require advanced and potentially costly mitigation technologies such as ballast water treatment systems or scrubbers, or even low sulphur fuel where crew will need to test blends, make sure that tanks are cleaned, and that the switch to a more expensive fuel is safe.

As the regulations change, masters need to know which rules apply in each region and what mitigating actions need to be implemented to make certain that the vessel they are operating remains compliant in all jurisdictions.

The MoU provides for TMS’s Ocean Guardian data to be integrated as an additional layer in NAVTORs award-winning planning system, NavStation. By combining NAVTOR’s NavStation with TMS’s regulatory information data, NavStation offers a seamless integration for navigation and regulatory compliance, meaning a master can be sure that the vessel he or she is operating will remain compliant anywhere in the world.

Many of the new regulations will be simple to meet in as much as they are applied globally for all operators in all jurisdictions. Others, such as ECAs, are regional and are applied locally with new ECAs expected to be enforced in the future. Some new regulations are more complex, with the US, for example, applying a more stringent threshold for regulating the cleaning of ballast water than required by the IMO.

TMS launched its Ocean Guardian digital platform in 2017. It is designed to simplify access to critical regulatory requirements no matter where a vessel is in the world. With regulatory information that is vetted by a third-party maritime law firm for international, national, regional and port jurisdictions, Ocean Guardian offers crew a comprehensive and reliable source of information.

Collaboration is key
Alexandra Anagnostis-Irons, President of TMS, says, “This kind of collaboration – with expert partners leveraging each other’s skills and technology – is the way forward for an increasingly demanding maritime industry.”

In offering an e-Navigation system with regulatory updates, NAVTOR MD Tor Svanes believes that the most pressing issue for the service provider is to make certain that all the information is correct and up to date.

Gaute Fossmark, environmental officer at NAVTOR, believes that this is a crucial issue for the combined systems. “Using data supplied by TMS, the updating of changes to regulations is fully automatic so that the customer does not need to worry about manual updates to the NAVTOR software, they see no updates,” he says.

TMS’s data management team makes certain that all data is harvested and vetted before being uploaded into Ocean Guardian. It updates its systems bi-weekly, while NAVTOR updates its electronic navigation chart (ENC) every week.

Fossmark believes that the regulatory regime is becoming increasingly complex, with new rules applied at ports. “Regional and port regulations are the hardest to get hold of,” according to Fossmark, with special rules applied by some ports for items such as waste management.

Some of these port rules are difficult to second guess. The Port of Kalajoki, Finland, for example, demands that all drains and outlets are covered, while any welding or hot work necessary for vessel repairs can only be undertaken with the permission of the port authority.

Port regulations – be prepared
The kind of regulations found in the Port of Kalajoki may not be known by all visiting vessels and that creates a need to be advised, preferably early in the voyage. The NAVTOR/TMS system allows for an early understanding of the rules in the place to which a vessel is headed, rather than the crew finding out that work is forbidden upon arrival.

Given the increasing frequency of localised rules, the crew is given the option with NAVTOR’s NavStation offering a layered system for route planning. NavStation offers a complete route planning service, including weather routing, passage planning and an e-publication reader. The user can operate all 12 layers of the system or switch individual layers off if required.

However, by using the TMS system with the NAVTOR voyage planning system, “Masters can show port inspectors that the crew has taken environmental issues into account during voyage planning,” explains Fossmark.

“Serious shipowners want to comply with the regulations, but with the increasing complexity of the regulatory landscape it is becoming harder to comply without assistance and planning. The NAVTOR/TMS gives crew the tools to plan ahead and to avoid costly penalties,” Fossmark adds.