Thordon Bearings has advised shipowners with newbuilds under construction to make sure they have the necessary documentation in place permitting operations in US waters prior to December 18, 2018.
The advice follows the announcement by the US Environmental Protection Agency that the 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP), due to expire in December 2018, will now be administratively continued till at least March 2019, when an updated version, VGP 3.0, will be introduced.
Jeffrey Butt, Thordon Bearings’ business development manager – marine said: “The delay in introducing VGP 3.0 means that operators of existing vessels looking to operate in US waters for the first time, or newbuilds with a keel laid after 18th of December 2018, must file a Notice of Intent (NOI) before this date if they are to be covered by the existing VGP 2.0.”
Currently, more than 61,000 US-flagged commercial vessels and around 8,000 foreign flagged vessels require a VGP to safeguard US waters against operational oil pollution from oil-to-sea interfaces.
“Shipowners operating our COMPAC seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearings will never be flagged for stentube-related oil pollution, but a VGP remains a legal requirement. A significant number of our customers have newbuilds nearing completion and they will need to submit their NOIs to the EPA soonest if they are to operate in US waters. There is not much time,” added Mr Butt.
Recent owners operating Thordon’s COMPAC water-lubricated propeller shaft bearings include Matson, Tropical Shipping, Lomar, MSC Cruises, Alaskan Ferries, Polsteam, and Groupe Desgagnés.
The EPA stipulates that all US-operating vessels must use an approved Environmentally Acceptable Lubricant (EAL) in all oil-to-sea interfaces and has said water is an optimum sterntube lubrication solution for eliminating the discharge of oil to the marine environment.