Great Ships Initiative




Types of GSI Testing Services

GSI offers three fundamental categories of testing services to developers of ballast water management systems (BWMSs). These are:

  1. Status Testing Services
  2. Foreign (Non-U.S.) Flag Type Approval Testing, and 
  3. U.S. Type Approval Testing.

The application process and financial terms differ between the three categories and are detailed below. GSI's policy governing the release and publication of data and findings also differs by test type and can be accessed here.


1. Status Testing Services

GSI offers Status Testing Services at one or more scales (i.e., at the bench-scale, at the GSI land-based facility, or on board a ship) to BWMS developers, depending upon the stage of BWMS development and/or specific BWMS Status Testing objectives. In general, GSI Status Testing provides BWMS developers insight into the performance of BWMS processes and configurations at early stages of development relative to specific challenge conditions and scenarios.  GSI findings are strictly the performance outcomes of the tests.  That is, to maintain its independence as a testing facility, GSI does not engage in discussions with the BWMS developer on, or produce recommendations for, ways to improve the BWMS process subject to testing.  Developers apply directly to GSI for these services (see below), and GSI awards Status Testing services at no cost except for shipping the subject BWMS to and from the GSI facility, and installation and removal of the system to and from the facility.

GSI offers Status Testing Services based on BWMS technical merit (i.e., likely operational effectiveness, biological effectiveness and environmental soundness, based on independent expert reviews of BWMS developer-provided supporting information); and GSI programmatic priorities (such as relevancy to priority ship types that ply to and within the Great Lakes) as recommended by the GSI Advisory Committee.  

GSI awards Status Testing Services to BWMS developers upon completion of a mutually negotiated Participation Agreement and Test/Quality Assurance Project Plan (TQAP or Test Plan). The Agreement and TQAP/Test Plan include the proposed testing schedule and specific terms with respect to non-disclosure of intellectual property, insurance and handling of the test findings, etc. 


2. Foreign (Non-U.S.) Flag Type Approval Testing

GSI offers Type Approval testing at the land-based and shipboard scales consistent with IMO G-8 and IMO G-9 Guidelines in coordination with a Non-US Flag Administration. BWMS developers apply directly to GSI for these services (see below), and GSI awards the services strictly at the cost to GSI of BWMS testing service operations, i.e., public funds support the cost of GSI Land-Based RDTE Facility construction and maintenance, worker training, program administration, etc.


3. U.S. Type Approval Testing

GSI certification testing for US Coast Guard decision-making, is carried out under the auspices of NSF International (Ann Arbor, Michigan), in partnership with the Maritime Environmental Research Center (Baltimore, Maryland), the American Bureau of Shipping (Alexandria, Virginia), Bureau Veritas – Curtis-Straus (Littleton, Massachusetts), and Retlif Testing Laboratories (Ronkonkoma, New York), among others.  BWMS developers apply directly to GSI for these services (see below)


How to Apply for GSI Testing Services

  • BWMS Status Testing and Foreign (Non-U.S.) Flag Type Approval Testing

Please email Nicole Mays ( to receive an electronic application form to apply for GSI status testing services..


  • U.S. Type Approval Testing

BWMS developers can apply directly to NSF International for U.S. Type Approval Testing at GSI as part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Independent Laboratory process using the application form (see below). GSI participates in this process and offers and awards type approval testing through NSF International and in coordination with the Maritime Environmental Research Center (MERC) and Retlif Testing Laboratories, among others. For more information about U.S. Type Approval Testing at GSI please contact Mr. Tom Stevens of NSF International at

Application FormU.S. Type Approval Testing Application Form (pdf).
InstructionsU.S. Type Approval Testing Application Instructions (pdf).
InformationU.S. Type Approval Testing Application Information (pdf).


Background Information


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