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‘The greatest threat since the 1990 luxury tax’

The Viking 92 Enclosed Bridge is one of the models that could be affected by the regulations.

The Viking 92 Enclosed Bridge is one of the models that could be affected by the regulations.

Stepping up his company’s efforts to rally support against the pending International Marine Organization emissions regulations for yachts longer than 78 feet, Viking Yachts president/CEO Pat Healey last week sent a letter to the U.S. State Department.

Healey’s letter to Greg O’Brien, Senior Oceans Policy advisor, spoke about the layoffs that will come as a result of the new emissions. Viking, he said, will be forced to stop building its 92- and 93-ft. models and could lay off 300 workers. Healey also said that other U.S. boat builders will be impacted, and that the emissions regulations could effectively “wipe out” boats from 90 to 130 feet.

The IMO Tier III emissions regulations are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021. They would apply to vessels with a load-line length of 24 meters (78 feet) and longer. New vessels built after 2021 would be forced to install Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems.

Tier III of the IMO regulations aim to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 70 percent compared to the current Tier II standards. The regulations apply to vessels in North America, the Caribbean, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and all future NOx Emission Control Areas. Any boat that passing through these areas must comply. Last year, the International Council of Marine Industry Associations attempted to delay the implementation of the regulations beyond January 2021, but was unsuccessful.

Healey said in the letter to the State Department that the regulations are coming years before SCR technology will be available to boat builders. “Engine manufacturers that supply engines for these vessels have indicated that they do not expect to have the necessary SCR technology developed, certified and fully field tested before 2022,” Healey wrote.

During a press conference at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Healey told boating media that Viking and other manufacturers had been aware of the regulations and that they had been assured that a six-year extension would be approved.

“We thought we had it,” Healey told Trade Only Today.

A deadline for a revised proposal for the new rules is December 30, so it can be included for discussion at the IMO MEPC 75 meeting that will take place from March 30 to April 3, 2020.

“We believe it is necessary for the United States Government to fully understand the pending impacts that will befall on U.S. boat builders if some accommodations for our industry are not granted,” Healey wrote in the letter.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 regulations and IMO Tier III are not the same, Healey noted. EPA’s Tier 4 standards mirror the IMO’s NOx limits and the EPA has provisions for recreational vessels. In 2008, after finalizing the EPA rule, Healey said the U.S. proposed the same limits to IMO to be applied to foreign-flagged vessels.

Because the technology doesn’t exist to downsize the required scrubbing equipment, Viking said in a statement that the IMI proposals will cause it to stop building its 93 Motor Yacht and 92 Convertible.

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“We’ve spent a combined $18 million in R&D on those two yachts,” Healey said in the statement. “Viking will not compromise the engineering integrity of our yachts with a technology that would have so many negative effects. We would not be building a better boat by using this technology in its current state.”

According to Viking, SCR is only effective when the engines are running at an engine load of 80 percent or higher, which is a fraction of the overall operation time of Vikings and other sportfishing boats.

Additionally, the cleaning systems require urea to treat the exhaust. A remote tank for the chemical, which needs to be 5 to 10 percent of the fuel load, would also be required. “To say that urea is not widely available in an understatement,” Healey said. “We simply don’t have the resources and the infrastructure to maintain and service these systems.”

Added Bob Healey. Jr., executive co-chairman of the Viking Group: “There will be very few ports that have urea, certainly not your mom-and-pop marinas or remote locations. Only your major ports like Miami and Fort Lauderdale will have urea.”

Pat Healey said the new regulations would affect the entire marine industry, not just Viking. “We’re talking about an entire segment of boatbuilding — yachts from 90 to 130 feet — being wiped out,” he said in the statement.

Healey added: “We will continue to right the unfeasible application of IMO Tier III limits. We’ve been fighting this battle quietly and without going through the public eye. But now we need to go public and spread the message. We have one more bite at the apple.”

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