A roadmap to retrofitting – with marine engineer Jad Mouawad | KraftPowercon



Posted By
Tommy Rochhausen

The deadline at which shipowners around the world need to fit their vessels with compliant ballast water management systems (BWMS) is rapidly approaching. By September 2024, all vessels traveling international waters must carry out ballast water management procedures in accordance with the D-2 standard of the Ballast Water Management Convention. In light of this, we decided to talk to the figurehead of one of the leading ballast water management consultancies worldwide – Jad Mouawad of Mouawad Consulting – to get his thoughts on what measures shipowners need to take for a successful BWMS retrofit.

Jad started Mouawad Consulting in 2013 after seven years as a Ballast Water Management Expert at DNV. Since starting his consultancy, it has become recognized internationally as the professional, technical and independent organization that can be relied on in all matters related to ballast water management.

“I started working with approval and certification of BWMS around three years after the BWM Convention was adopted in 2004. Back then, the Convention was fairly unknown to most people, and I had to deal with everything from type approvals and the development of rules and regulations very early on. Principally, I do the same work now as I did when I was at DNV, but as a consultant.”

It wasn’t until 13 years later, on September 8, 2017, that the BWM Convention officially entered into force. Since then, the maritime industry has been forced to adjust its course towards becoming compliant with a new, global standard. A monumental task, if you ask Jad.

“My perception is that the ones who drafted the Convention didn’t envision the colossal impact it would have on the industry. Retrofitting the equipment of a global fleet is a massive undertaking. It requires a lot of planning and man-hours. And the equipment needed is not cheap, so there is a lot of money involved. Luckily, this is also a good thing, as several manufacturers started developing good equipment. If the market demand was low, no one would have bothered. At the same time, it has become a burden on shipowners having to invest in new systems and equipment they previously did not need.”

With an industry scrambling to become compliant with new regulations, the demand for BWMS has skyrocketed over the last couple of years. Given the timeframe, we are currently in the midst of a massive retrofit surge predicted to peak in 2022. Consequently, this has put immense pressure on system manufacturers to keep up with the demand.

“Availability of equipment is key if we want to avoid costly standstills and bottlenecks. This does not only go for BWMS equipment but things such as flanges, valves, pipes, and cables – regular equipment needed in ships. These parts are important to have before a vessel is docked at the shipyard ready to undergo a retrofit.”

Retrofitting a BWMS is a complex process that requires careful planning. Therefore, we asked Jad to outline the retrofit journey from beginning to end to shed light on what measures shipowners need to take, and what pitfalls to avoid.



The process of retrofitting a BWMS to an existing vessel consists of more than simply choosing a system. According to Jad, identifying the limitations and analyzing the conditions on board the vessel should be the natural starting point for anyone looking to carry out a successful retrofit project.

“The biggest mistake I see shipowners make is buying a system before analyzing the conditions on board. This will only come back to haunt you in the long run. Instead, work systematically and do a thorough market analysis to see which components perfectly match your vessel. You can do this yourself if you do not want to hire a consultant. Of course, if you want an elaborate analysis, I recommend hiring a consultant. This will help you avoid unnecessary operational problems in the end.”


Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to BWMS. But with a proper market analysis as a foundation, you can rest assured you will find the equipment, components, and system perfectly suitable for your needs.

“There are many parameters to take into account before actually choosing a system or technology for your vessel. Things such as pump capacity, ballast water flow, available space, and water characteristics are important factors to consider before settling on a specific system. If you have done your market analysis properly, you can easily make a shortlist of around two to three systems that are ideal for your vessel. Then, you can proceed with finding a system manufacturer that can deliver on the requirements you have.”

Additionally, price and quality are two important factors for shipowners planning a retrofit. But focusing too much on the cost issue is a major mistake if you ask Jad. Especially if you plan on buying cheap equipment from unknown manufacturers.

“As shipowners narrow down their system options, they naturally start looking at the price tag for the equipment. And I get it: nobody wants to pay more than what they have to. But if you plan on buying cheap equipment from a manufacturer that no one else in the industry is buying from, you are setting yourself up for failure. It will probably break down, it will be impossible to fix, and you won’t get the support and help you need. Instead, look for a combination of reasonable price and quality – there are plenty of good options to choose from in the middle.”


When the theoretical legwork is done, it is time to hire Marine Engineers to go on board your vessel and plan the practical installation of the BWMS. This process is crucial as it outlines where all the system equipment needs to be installed.

“When we reach this step of the process, we go on board the ship as Marine Engineers and not as 3D scanners. Sure, we bring 3D scanners – which in reality is just an elaborate camera – to create a three-dimensional rendering of the surface and space inside the vessel. But we also talk to the crew to learn more about how the ship operates and what the conditions on board are like. After that, we head back to the office and make a 3D rendition of the system with the help of our scan. When this work is done, we send a detailed report to the shipowner and crew who get to review our proposition before we transition to the next step.”


The design engineering phase is a meticulous process where Jad and his team specifies which system components are needed to assemble the final BWMS. This is summarized in drawings that get sent over to classification societies for final approval.

“In this phase, we start looking at things such as which pipes, flanges, bolts and cables we need to assemble the final system. When this is done, we send over the final drawings to the classification societies for approval. If the drawings are approved, we create a technical specification detailing everything that the retrofit includes. We send this specification to the shipowner who goes to the shipyard and asks for a price to do the retrofit work. Then, finally, we start putting the system together.”


After the preparation phase is done and all technical specifications have been approved by classification societies, it is time to move on to the most critical phase of the retrofit project: installation and commissioning of the system. This is when things finally start coming to fruition.

“Even though we have planned everything very thoroughly in theory, you always encounter obstacles when applying the plan in reality. Adjustments need to be made, more materials need to be bought, and so forth. And we do not want the shipyard to make these adjustments as they tend to go for the easiest options. And usually, this will not result in a good retrofit in the end. That is why we always make sure to have a representative from either us, the shipowner, or the BWMS manufacturer onsite to ensure that the installation is done properly.”

Once the installation is complete, it is time to commission the BWMS. This is the final stage of the retrofit project and involves testing every single function of the system to make sure all components work.

“Commissioning the whole system usually takes three to four days. Again, we have representatives from the BWMS manufacturer onsite to ensure all tests are done by the book. When the commissioning is done, we teach the crew how to operate the system.”

Jad has certified an extensive amount of BWMS while working as responsible for Ballast Water Management at DNV. He has also been involved in over 200 vessel projects throughout his career, where he and his team has provided consultancy services on all matters related to ballast water management. Learn more about the services Mouawad Consulting provides at www.bwm.no

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