Ballast Water Treatment Advisory for all Vessels

Vessel deballasting

Vessel deballasting

The Water Ballast Exchange (BWE) problem was first observed in the 1980s when Australia and Canada experienced problems caused by invasive species and brought their attention to the world stage. The ballast water and sediments carried by vessels have been identified as a major passageway for the transport of harmful and often invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens (a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease). Ships usually take on ballast water in one port and carry such ballast to other ports where they discharge. The harmful living organisms and pathogens can survive in the ballast water despite harsh conditions in the tanks and piping. The harmful, non-native species then compete and change the local ecosystems, sometimes dramatically, after being discharged. The direct economic impact of aquatic invasive species, as well as the potential long term damage dealt to the heath of the local marine environment; and the people who depend on that environment has been well documented.

unwanted species

unwanted species

Since the development of the 2004 International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (Ballast Water Management [BWM] Convention), there have been many regulatory requirements changes as well as additional ballast water management options. The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), a not-for-profit corporation, has since published 3 Ballast Water Treatment Advisories that provided useful information on ballast water regulations and treatment technologies to the marine industry. As of July 2014, 40 countries representing more than 30% of World merchant shipping tonnage have fully ratified and implemented the BWM convention. Other big nations like Australia, China, Arabian Gulf, United Kingdom and United States of America have regulations for BWM administered locally. The BWM Convention applies to all vessel types operating in the aquatic environment which are designed to carry ballast water.


In general, ballast water treatment technologies fall into two groups - separation technologies or disinfection technologies. Separation technologies remove organisms from ballast water upon intake or prior to discharge. Disinfection technologies kill or render organisms incapable of reproducing. BWMS have been developed using various combinations of the technologies. With the deadline for the implementation of the new BWM systems fast approaching (by end of 2017), vessels of all sizes are queueing at shipyards to modify or integrate their new BWM systems for approval.


Retrofitting new systems or finding the best configuration to fit the treatment systems can be a daunting task. In most engine rooms, the ballast piping consists of the largest pipes used. It can be a challenge to find room for tie-in points to the manifold area around the ballast pumps as well as space in the engine room to run lengths of pipe to remote locations. For most existing vessels, detailed as-built drawings of the ship’s ballast piping system and engine room arrangement may not be readily available. 


Here in Aries Geomatics, we offer 3D laser scanning to efficiently map an area and convert these crucial details into accurate 3D models for the system design stage. These 3D models can be used as design references to expedite the entire design phase of the treatment system, as well as to plan for fabrication, hacking of existing structures and installation of the system.

The biggest misconception on the technology is that it is expensive and time-consuming. While 3D laser scanning may be represented with a higher upfront cost, the long-term savings and values brought by laser scanning would make it the most cost-effective option. Firstly,  with a typical accuracy of 2-5 millimeters and a full 360 degree data point collection, be sure that our point cloud data would not miss any crucial dimensions. Secondly, each scan positions only require 3-5 minutes to be completed, requiring less than a day for typical scanning operations. This can ensure quicker turnaround time for vessels, and minimal effect to the day-to-day operation of the marine crews and vessel. Thirdly, manage your entire fabrication and installation process easily by having full understanding of any potential space constraints, installation clashes or any "unforeseen situations" that may result in reworks and on-site modifications. 

The usage of 3D laser scanning has been proven time and time again to save time and money, yet increase on convenience and scale. The cost of investing in the usage of 3D laser scanning can be further reduced if series of installations on 'sister' ships are to occur, enabling your team to have full control of the entire fleet by strategically selecting few reference ships to perform the laser scans.

For more details on how our team of technical experts can advise and value-add to your projects, contact us to schedule a meeting with us now!