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Duties of a Ballast Water Management Officer Onboard

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Duties of a Ballast Water Management Officer Onboard
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Complying with international regulations as well as keeping the vessel and crew members safe while on a voyage requires a responsible officer who will ensure that outlined steps are followed in each operation.

Ballasting and de-ballasting is a necessity on every commercial vessel to continually achieve ship stability and maintain integrity.

Ship ballast water management plan (BWMP) is a requirement by Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the risk of introducing harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens from vessels' ballast water and associated sediments.

The responsible person for ballasting operations is the chief officer/ first mate. The second officer may be delegated to take act or assist.

Duties of a Ballast Water Management Officer Onboard
Ballast Operation. Photo-credit: IMO

The duties of a Ballast Water Management officer onboard include:

  1. Ensure the safety of the vessel and crew
  2. Prepare ballast-handling plan for the voyage in advance
  3. Inform the owner or operator by an agreed procedure when commencing ballast water exchange and when it is completed
  4. Ensure adequate equipment are available for the execution of the planned ballast water management operations
  5. Ensure that ballast water management and exchange procedures in the BWMP are meticulously followed and recorded
  6. Ensure that suitable personnel carries out assigned duties
  7. Ensure that all required ballast water management records/logs are kept and updated appropriately including the Ballast Water Record Book (BWRB)
  8. Checks all overflow and sounding pipes are open during exchange of ballast water
  9. When necessary, prepare the appropriate national or port ballast water declaration forms prior to arrival in port
  10. Prepare and submit the pre-arrival Ballast Report to authorities as and when required.
  11. Assist the port state control or quarantine officers for any sampling that may need to be undertaken
  12. Undertake familiarization and training of crew members in ballast water management requirements and applicable shipboard systems and procedures
  13. To observe the Planned Maintenance Routine system – inspect ballast tanks and carry out sediment removal as and when required

The ship's master must ensure that the BWMP is clearly understood by the responsible officer and any other personnel that is involved in the ballast operations. The responsible officer must keep the master informed on the progress of the ballasting operations and any envisaged deviations from the agreed plan.

Complains and uncertainties should be shared with the master accordingly.

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