Maritime Compliance: USCG Policy – Master Pilot eXchange (MPX) Vs Engine Power Limiter (EPL) and the use of a Shaft Power Limiter (SHaPoLi)

by - published on 30 May 2024 471 -

Maritime Compliance Article

Article & Picture by We'd like to bring to your attention the USCG Policy Letter 01-24, which provides “Guidance regarding devices that alter maneuvering characteristics of ships to ensure safe operation in waters of the United States”.

The policy letter provides guidance, such as for the Master Pilot eXchange (MPX) and wheelhouse posters, to maritime stakeholders in regard to the use of power limitation devices for ships operating in U.S. territorial waters, including considerations to ensure safe navigation, and compliance with 33 CFR 164.11(k).

As of 1st November 2022, existing ships, and those which have undergone a major conversion, must comply with the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) under MARPOL Annex VI. Some methods for achieving compliance include reducing the ship speed or engine power, permanently de-rating the engine, through the installation of an overridable Engine Power Limiter (EPL) and the use of a Shaft Power Limiter (SHaPoLi).

As stated in the “policy letter para e” ships that employ these devices “must inform pilots of the engine response characteristics prior to entry into US territorial waters to comply with 33 CFR 164.11(k)”. The policy letter also highlights that, “the accurate representation of maneuvering characteristics and limitations of ships on pilot cards and wheelhouse posters is vital to safe navigation in restricted waters.”

The policy letter further provides guidance on “a framework for decision making regarding the use of devices that have the potential to negatively impact ship maneuverability”, but does not preclude operators “from following rules of good seamanship to ensure the safety of their ship and the waterway.”

  • Ships with a permanent power modification MUST update pilot cards and wheelhouse posters to reflect maneuverability with the device installed.
  • If the ship’s maneuvering characteristics indicated on the pilot card and wheelhouse poster were not updated following installation of an EPL/SHaPoLi system or acceleration-limiting program, the ship is NOT in compliance with regulation 33 CFR 164.11(k). As such, the system or program must be overridden prior to entry into U.S. territorial waters.
  • Where the override is not feasible, the COTP, in consultation with the pilots, may require additional measures to ensure the safety of the ship and the port.
  • If the pilot card and wheelhouse poster do not reflect maneuverability when the EPL/SHaPoLi system is in the override condition, the system should not be overridden except in an emergency. If, prior to entry into U.S. territorial waters, a determination is made that power above the EPL/SHaPoLi setpoint is necessary for the restricted waters transit, then additional measures may be considered by the authorities.
  • If a determination is made that additional power above the EPL/SHaPoLi set point is necessary to safely transit in restricted waters, and an updated pilot card and wheelhouse poster for the EPL/SHaPoLi override condition is onboard, an EPL/SHaPoLi may be overridden. The override procedure must be completed well in advance of when it is determined to be necessary for safe operation while navigating in restricted waters.

The policy letter advises that, in order to avoid delays, operators of ships who have not updated these documents should engage with local pilots and the COTP well in advance of entry into port, and ensure that all required safety measures are in place.

Full guidance is available from the policy letter. Members are reminded that, as per IMO MEPC Resolution 335(76) para 3.4 and 3.5, where the EPL/ShaPoLi override is activated, the relevant authorities are to be notified of such an event without delay. The vessel should be operated below the certified level of engine power when the navigation risk is mitigated and the power limiter reinstated when the ship can be safely operated with the limited shaft / engine power.

The overriding of the limitation system should be recorded in line with IMO Resolution MEPC 375(80) and also in the event that the override was activated, but was not subsequently used.

Readers are reminded that, for vessels installed with EPL/SHaPoLi, the Master and ship staff are to be fully conversant with any limitations that this may present in regard to the safe maneuvering of the vessel. Details of engine power limitations should form an integral part of the Master Pilots Information Exchange (MPX), irrespective of whether the vessel is trading in US territorial waters.

Source: USCG, Steamship Mutual.

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