The Coast Guard says it will not enforce the International Maritime Or­gan­ization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee’s IMO Tier III engine emission regulations for vessels larger than 78 feet, a move it says was due to the lack of technology and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A commercial SCR system developed by MAN.

A commercial SCR system developed by MAN.

Several groups, including the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the European Boating Industry and the International Council of Marine Industry Associations, worked with the IMO in an attempt to get an extension.

“We are extremely pleased the Coast Guard issued guidance to allow manufacturers additional time to develop technology for a specific class of recreational vessels, says Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government and legal affairs at NMMA. “The Coast Guard has understood the significant impact the IMO rule would have on domestic manufacturing and the additional timing needed to achieve emissions reductions.

Viking would have had to stop production of its 92-footer if NOx Tier III emission limits had gone into effect Jan. 1.

Viking would have had to stop production of its 92-footer if NOx Tier III emission limits had gone into effect Jan. 1.

The NOx Tier III emission limits for marine engines has been around since 2016, but ICOMIA was granted a five-year extension for recreational vessels that was set to expire this year. Rules state that all vessels with a load line length greater than 78 feet will require the installation of selective catalytic reducers that scrub emissions using urea. Groups including British Marine, ICOMIA and Viking Yacht Co. say adapting the systems to existing designs is complicated, costly and will not have the environmental impact the regulations are designed to address.

2_92-Engine-Room-4E4A0346

In a policy letter, the Coast Guard says it won’t take enforcement actions even if vessels do not meet the MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 13 Tier III NOx emission standard. The letter states, in part:

“USCG will defer enforcement on the operation of engines on large recreational vessels subject to the prohibition set out in reference (a). The deferral will be available after the temporary waiver for large recreational vessels set out in Regulation 13.5.2.3 expires on Jan. 1, 2021, until a suitable engine is available or Dec. 31, 2023, whichever is earlier.”

“We’re pleased that the Coast Guard is supporting the recreational marine industry by recognizing that the technology to comply with these emissions standards currently does not exist for this market segment,” says Viking president and CEO Pat Healey. “Our team at Viking and the NMMA have done a tremendous job raising awareness about the unique challenges the marine industry faces meeting these mandates and the potential severe economic impacts that misguided regulations can have on boatbuilders.”

The SCR systems that are currently available would take up significant space in the Viking 92’s engine room and require tooling and design updates.

The SCR systems that are currently available would take up significant space in the Viking 92’s engine room and require tooling and design updates.

Healey adds: “The Coast Guard’s position gives us the flexibility to build our 92 Convertible and 93 Motor Yacht for the next three years. However, we are also looking to the future. … Viking played a major role in advancing the development of EPA Tier III engines for our yachts. We will continue to support and work with engine manufacturers and environmental agencies to pursue the fastest plausible path to further advance and implement technology that provides safe, reliable and fuel-efficient marine propulsion for our customers.” 

This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue.

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