Great Ships Initiative




February 2016 - New Bench-Scale Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on the effects of UV irradiation on survival and reproduction of selected protist and zooplankton species. Click here to view the report.

October 2015 - NEMWI's Great Ships Initiative (GSI) Hosts Train-the-Trainer Workshop. From October 19 to 21, 2015, the NEMWI’s Great Ships Initiative (GSI) hosted a “Train-the-Trainer” workshop in conjunction with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) GloBallast Partnerships Programme, in which participants received hands-on practical training on the sampling and analysis of ballast water collected from ships. Workshop participants included port state control officers and biologists from representative countries including Argentina, Bahamas, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. The workshop was held in Superior, Wisconsin, home of the GSI’s state-of-the-art ballast water management system testing facility. Participants also boarded Algoma Central Corporation’s MV Tim S. Dool, at the Holcim Dock in Duluth, Minnesota. This particular vessel is one of several fitted with ballast discharge sampling ports as part of the GSI’s Ship Discharge Monitoring Project. Participants were given a tour and instructional briefing by the MV Tim S. Dool’s Third Mate on the ship’s ballast system and available apertures through which sampling could occur.


From September 1-4, 2015, NEMWI's Great Ships Initiative (GSI) ballast water testing facility in Superior, WI helped the Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) test emerging ballast water compliance tools in the natural freshwater of the Great Lakes. Dr. Euan Reavie, the lead phytoplankton expert of the GSI project and a researcher at the University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute, led the GSI-based research session focused on handheld fluorescence tools designed to detect live organisms in the smaller (10 um to 50 um) of two USCG regulatory size class. Over the course of four days, the GSI team microscopically analyzed samples also subject to analysis with the florescence instruments, both under intensive Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) measures, to help validate the instruments for fresh water use. The United States government, states, and international entities require ships to limit discharges of live organisms in ballast water, but reliable and feasible means of detecting compliance remains a challenge


August 26 2015 - The Great Ships Initiative this week begins testing two commercially available ballast water management systems (BWMSs) in freshwater for the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The two BWMSs operate through compound processes involving filtration and secondary treatment. Outcomes from GSI's freshwater tests will be forwarded to the Independent Laboratory (IL) with which GSI is affiliated (NSF International in Ann Arbor, MI). The NSF IL will consolidate GSI's findings with outcomes of counterpart brackish and salt water tests (by GSI's sister facility, the Maritime Environmental Resource Center, or MERC, in Baltimore, MD) and component testing facilities (e.g., Retlif Testing Laboratories located in NY), and based on overall findings, make a recommendation to the USCG for Certification of the BWMSs.  

Ships carry ballast water to maintain trim and stability at sea under a variety of cargo conditions. The USCG requires ships to manage their ballast water so that discharges to US waters meet standards designed to prevent new introductions of harmful invasive species. The GSI was one of the first testing teams and facilities accepted by the USCG to undertake certification tests on land in a specialized test facility, and at sea on operating ships. Effective BWMSs must effectively kill or remove any kind of aquatic organisms taken up from any harbor in the world without leaving harmful chemical residues in receiving systems. Performance is validated through rigorous testing by USCG certified independent laboratories. After a long period of product development, several commercially available BWMSs are lining up for certification testing. GSI has capacity to plug in two BWMSs at a time for overlapping tests, and is currently undertaking certification test series on the JFE BallastAce®, and the Evoqua SeaCure System™.


July 2015 - New Land-Based Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on land-based status tests of the JFE BallastAce ballast water management system. Click here to view the report.

December 2014 - Report Release and Webinar Recap: "How Well Do Today's Ballast Water Filters Perform in Natural Fresh Water?". On 2 December, 2014, the Great Ships Initiative released its report: "How Well Do Today's Ballast Water Filters Perform in Natural Fresh Water?" The year-long study by the Great Ships Initiative generated comprehensive empirical information on ballast water management system filter performance in natural fresh water. GSI held a webinar providing a preview of report findings on November 19, 2014, which attracted nearly 100 participants and included presentations by GSI scientists and participating ship owners and filter developers. The webinar PowerPoint presentation was then updated in response to webinar participant comments. Filters tested ranged in nominal pore size from 10 - 40 microns.  All of the filters tested functioned effectively in natural and amended fresh water, but none was so effective it achieved the US federal ballast water discharge standard for live planktonic organisms as a stand-alone treatment system. Click here to view the report. Click here to view the Webinarand here to view the updated PowerPoint presentation.

January 2014 - New Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on bench-scale tests of the electrolytic cell component of the SiCURE ballast water management system. Click here to view the report.

December 2013 - New Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on bench-scale tests of a ballast water treatment involving sodium hydroxide. Click here to view the report.

October 22, 2013 - NEMWI President Signs GloBal TestNet Memorandum of Understanding on Behalf of Great Ships Initiative. NEMWI President, Ms. Allegra Cangelosi, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of NEMWI’s Great Ships Initiative (GSI), with 16 other Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) Test Facilities globally to work together to improve and harmonize the quality of BWT performance testing.  Test facilities globally are meeting this week in Busan, South Korea, just prior to a conference, titled Ballast 2013.  Global consistency and quality in BWT performance testing is critical to the success of U.S. and international BWT regulations.  NEMWI’s GSI has long been committed to transparency and quality in BWT tests and actively performs outreach on quality assurance and control, and openly publishes its Standard Operating Procedures for global use and scrutiny. Click here to read the GloBal TestNet MOU.

September 3, 2013 - Department of Transportation Officials Tour GSI Facility. On September 3, 2013, Paul N. Jaenichen, Acting Maritime Administrator, toured the Great Ships Initiative ballast water treatment testing facility in Superior, WI.  Later in the month (September 18, 2013) Betty Sutton, former Ohio Congresswoman, NEMW Congressional Coalition member, and newly appointed Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) Administrator, also toured the regional research site. SLSDC Administrator Sutton said, "I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the GSI facility last week and receive a tour of the operation from the President of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, Allegra Cangelosi.  It is certainly an impressive facility and it is clear that, as the first fresh water testing facility in the world, the Great Lakes - Superior operation has become a center of scientific research on ballast water.  The Seaway has supported GSI from the beginning and that support will continue in the future." The United States Department of Transportation Maritime Administration and St. Lawrence Seaway Development Organization have been long-standing supporters of the NEMWI's successful development of the Great Lakers ballast treatment testing capability and continue to collaborate with NEMWI on GSI as Advisory Committee members to assure that GSI research is relevant to urgent federal policy information needs.

September 2013 New Data Policy. GSI in cooperation with the Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC) have released a policy governing the publication of data and findings associated with "Independent Laboratory", "Non-US Type Approval" and "Status Testing" test activities. Click here to read GSI and MERC's data policy. Click here to learn more about the three types of test activities.

July 2013 - Filter Testing Opportunity. GSI, in collaboration with several U.S. and Canadian ship-owners, invites ballast treatment filter system developers to participate in a testing opportunity at the GSI land-based ballast treatment testing facility in Superior, Wisconsin. GSI will supply the tests and data free of charge to the filter system developers, thanks to funding support from the US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration and the US Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These GSI filter tests will inform treatment developers about their filters' operational and biological effectiveness in fresh water systems like the Great Lakes, where organisms entrained in the ballast water uptake have become invasive, incurring severe environmental and economic damage. The tests will occur this summer and GSI will publish test results publicly, identifying each filter by a numeric code rather than trade name, unless the developer requests otherwise. Click here for more information. Applications close July 15, 2013.

July 2013 - New Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on bench-scale tests of a ballast water management system (BWMS) involving chlorine in conjuction with sonic energy. Click here to view the report.

March 2013 - New Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on shipboard tests of a ballast water management system (BWMS) involving sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Click here to view the report.

March 2013 - New Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on bench-scale evaluations of a ballast water management system (BWMS) involving yeast and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Click here to view the report.

January 2013 - 2013 Applications. GSI is now accepting applications for 2013 bench, land-based, and shipboard Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) testing. For more information and to apply, please visit the "Applications" page of our website.

August 2012 Independent Laboratory Approval. GSI, in partnership with NSF International, the Maritime Environmental Research Center (MERC), and Retlif Testing Laboratories, has just received US Coast Guard approval to become the first "Independent Laboratory" for the evaluation, inspection, and testing of ballast water management systems (BWMSs). Please visit the "Applications" page of our website to find out more information.

June 2012 - New Technical Report. GSI has just released a technical report on land-based tests of a ballast water management system (BWMS) involving sodium hypochlorite. Click here to view the report.


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