Optimarin has just completed its first revised IMO G8 compliant system installation for the Norwegian Coastguard, cementing its position as a preferred supplier for the fleets charged with patrolling, protecting and maintaining standards in national waters around the world.
“Even the vessels that don’t have to install a ballast water treatment (BWT) system install Optimarin,” smiles Tonje Olafsen, Project Manager at Norwegian BWT pioneer Optimarin. “I think that speaks volumes for our reputation. We’ve been exclusively focused on this specialist niche longer than anyone else – since 1994 in fact – so shipowners and operators know they can trust both our team and technology.
“That’s obviously something that appeals to coastguards, who operate as true industry role models, adhering to the very highest standards… even when they don’t have to!”
Leading the way
Olafsen is speaking in the aftermath of Optimarin’s first project with Kystvakten (the Norwegian Coastguard). Working together with the Westcon yard in Ølensvåg, West Norway, the team has just installed one of its market proven UV-based systems on the 2189 DWT patrol vessel KV Harstad.
Unlike tens of thousands of other ships in the world fleet, the 2005 built offshore vessel isn’t actually mandated to install a BWT system. However, the coastguard chose to fit one nonetheless, ensuring it joins the fight against invasive species carried in ballast water tanks and protects the fragile marine environment.
“The efficacy of our system is second to none,” notes Olafsen, “and that was crucial in achieving the industry’s first full approval with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in 2016. That really demonstrated we were leading the world in terms of compliance and, as a result, coastguard orders followed. The USCG itself chose Optimarin technology for its latest fleet renewal programme, with its first newbuild Medium Endurance Cutters set to launch from Florida’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group next year. We’re proud to have installed systems with the Dutch, Danish and now Norwegian coastguards too. We see it as the ultimate endorsement. Basically, if it’s good enough for the coastguard it’s good enough for anybody!”
Cast iron compliance
The installation upon KV Harstad, completed in early November, is additionally noteworthy as it marks Optimarin’s first since obtaining revised IMO G8 certification in October. This is crucial for owners racing to install systems in the next few years, as the new approval is central to overall compliance with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Systems code (BWMS Code).
“Although the revision does not apply to units already fitted, it is mandatory for the many thousands that must be installed prior to the final compliance date of 2024 (for those vessels that have delayed International Oil Pollution Surveys),” explains Optimarin’s EVP Sales and Marketing Tore Andersen.
“That means it is essential for owners and operators, such as Kystvakten, to ensure the technology they choose has revised G8 certification. Not the promise of certification, or pending certification, but actual cast iron, verifiable compliance. Choosing the wrong system at this stage is a very unfortunate, time-consuming and expensive mistake to make.
“Choose a system, and a supplier, you know you can trust.”
Partnering for success
It also helps to opt for technology that is easy to install, especially on vessels where space is at a premium – such as the 83m long KV Harstad. The team at Westcon can vouch for this.
Somewhat unusually in the ‘traditional shipyard’ segment, Westcon has the ability to operate as a one-stop-shop – catering not only for yard duties but also handling all engineering work, from initial 3D scanning and planning, through to prefabrication of all necessary piping and final installation.
“That offers a huge advantage,” says Lasse Åsbø, Project Manager, Westcon Yards. “It means the same engineers and foremen can be involved on a project from start to finish – giving them full insight – while the seamless way we take the installation from the drawing board right through to final fitting makes progress faster, smoother and more efficient in terms of time and resources.”
Åsbø said the collaboration with the Optimarin team was “excellent” (with “good service and fast responses to our questions”) while the modular technology was comparatively easy to fit within the tight vessel constraints.
“Space is always a challenge in this kind of retrofit, especially when, as in this case, the customer wanted the unit concentrated in one specific area,” he notes. “That said, the simplicity and (small) size of Optimarin’s unit, our own engineering capability, and the close cooperation we enjoyed made the whole project run very smoothly.
“We’re looking forward to working together in the future.”
For its part Optimarin sees a busy period ahead, with customers extending far beyond the spectrum of coastguards.
“Yes, we do work with other segments too!” laughs Andersen when quizzed. “Our reliable, easy to install and operate systems are used by a wide variety of owners operating ships up to around 50,000 dwt, while our close cooperation with Sunrui ensures that, together, we can cater for any vessel of any size. We offer a complete sales and service proposition, delivering worldwide compliance and total peace of mind, always.”
Optimarin has now sold over 1000 of its own units, with approximately 700 installed and operational. The majority of current orders are for retrofits, signalling the industry’s final move towards ensuring existing fleets meet necessary regulatory requirements.
“The potential on the horizon is immense,” concludes Andersen. “Despite the current pandemic orders have remained healthy and we see real growth in 2021, followed on by a peak period extending through 2022 and 2023. After that we’ll see business building on the aftersales and servicing side. That is another essential offer for a company that sees itself as a close partner rather than just a supplier. We’re in this together, for long-term performance, quality, support and satisfaction.”
A promise that should make the difficult job of guarding coasts, and running commercial shipping operations, a little bit easier.
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