The Moment of Reality

Step III level of next stringent exhaust legislation is just around the corner.

First of January 2016 is the magic date for the international maritime industry. We spoke with several international acting associations, societies and engine suppliers, e.g. DNV GL, VDMA, MTU, RRPS as well as shipyards, just to name a few, to get clarity about this far-reaching subject. Interesting in this context is the fact that the spokesman of the Euromot, the Association of European Engine Manufacturers, rejected to give any information – don’t they know what it is all about?
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), an agency of the United Nations, announced that the revised IMO Tier III exhaust emission regulation will come in force on 1
January 2016.

MARPOL (MARine POLlution) of IMO is the international convention for prevention of the pollution of the sea from vessels. It established rules for the protection of the environment valid for international shipping.
MARPOL has to be followed primarily by vessels, which run under the flag of an IMO member country. If a vessel runs under another authority but navigates in watercourses of member countries, this vessel has to adopt MARPOL too.

Applicability of statutory exhaust regulations.

IMO TIER III will be applicable in Emission Control Areas (ECA) only. The enforcement date will be specified for each ECA individually. For the North American & US Caribbean ECA this will be January 1st, 2016 and is valid for ALL NEWBUILD VESSELS with keel-laying date on or after January 1st, traveling in the North American NOx Emission Control Areas (NECA) and the United States Caribbean Sea NECA. When these vessels travel outside of NOx ECAs, IMO Tier II regulations remains.

Grafische Darstellung der IMO NOx-Regulierungen.
IMO NOx-Regulierungen. © IMO

IMO Tier III does not differentiate between main engines and on-board genset engines (except emergency stand-by gensets) and it is not a retroactive requirement; hence it will not be applicable to existing engine installations.
In other words: In case of a necessary replacement engine or additional engine after January 1
st 2016 (IMO Tier III introductory date) the situation is as follows:
* In case of replacement by an identical engine the same requirements apply as for the former one
* In case of replacement by a non-identical engine or installation of an additional engine the standards in force at the time of the installation shall apply
* Replacement engines only: on or after January 1
st 2016 Tier II will be applicable if it can be proven that it is not possible to meet Tier III.


  1. Marine diesel engines intended to be used solely for emergencies (e.g. power generation, lifeboat propulsion etc)
  2. Engines installed on a ship solely engaged in voyages within waters subject to the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the State the flag of which the ship is entitled to fly, provided that alternative NOx control measures apply.
  3. Warships, naval auxiliary, other vessels owned or operated by a state on government non-commercial service. The convention shall apply of the measures are not impairing the operational capabilities of such vessel.

Recreational Provisions

IMO Tier II does not differentiate between recreational and commercial. This has been changed with IMO Tier III.
IMO Tier III will not be applicable to:
* a marine diesel engine installed on
a vessel with a length less than 24 metres and more than 500 GT when it has been specifically designed and is used solely for recreational purposes,
* a marine diesel engine installed on a vessel
constructed prior to 1. January 2021 of less than 500 GT, with a length of 24 metres or over when it has been specifically designed and is used solely for recreational purposes.
The legal IMO text does not feature, for example, the term ”superyacht” or ”megayacht” – also ”recreational purposes” is not definded at IMO which means that National Yacht Registers may have different interpretations.

Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA’s) or Emission Control Areas (ECA’s)

Grafische Darstellung der momentan weltweiten Emissionsschutzgebiete.
Weltweite, momentane Emissionsschutzgebiete. © IMO

are sea areas in which stricter controls were established to minimize airborne emissions (SOx, NOx, ODS, VOC) from ships as defined by Annex VI of the 1997 MARPOL Protocol which came into effect in May 2005. Annex VI contains provisions for two sets of emission and fuel quality requirements regarding SOx and PM, or NOx, a global requirement and more stringent controls in special Emission Control Areas (ECA). These regulations stemmed from concerns about the contribution of the shipping industry to “local and global air pollution and environmental problems.” By July 2010 a revised more stringent Annex VI was enforced with significantly tightened emissions limits.

For the time being there are four existing ECAs including the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the North American ECA, including most of US and Canadian coast and the US Caribbean ECA. Also other areas may be added via protocol defined in Annex VI. ECAs with nitrous oxid thresholds are denoted as

Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Areas (NECAs).

As of 1. January 2016 the North American & US Caribbean ECA is the first NOx emission controlled area. Often one can read that also the North Sea, Baltic Sea and the Northern Mediterranean Sea will be a NECA area ”…possibly next year”. But so far nothing has been decided yet by the responsible legislation bodies.

Vorheriger ArtikelDong Energy baut weltgrößten Offshore-Windpark in der Irischen See
Nächster ArtikelStatutory requirements, mandatory audits and other amendments that entered into force on 1 January 2016
Dipl. -Ing. Peter Pospiech
Redaktionsleitung bei mit Schwerpunkt Schiffsbetriebstechnik, Transport, Logistik, Schiffahrt, Hafen und dem weitreichenden Thema Umweltschutz sowie gesetzliche Auflagen für Antriebsmaschinen.