MARPOL-certificates and marine pollution prevention equipment:

BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Referat Maschine
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg

Holger Steinbock
Phone: +49 40 36137-217
Fax: +49 40 36137-204

Jörg Heuckeroth
Phone: +49 40 361 37-231
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204
Mobile: +49 171 50 57 038

Administrative offences in relation to MARPOL infringements:

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Sachgebiet S 41
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Katrin Ewert
Phone: +49 40 31 90 74 10
Fax: +49 40 31 90 5000

Webcode for this Content: 16135463

Air pollution from ships · Energy efficiency (Annex VI)

Reduction of exhaust gases caused by marine traffic

The maritime industry is by far the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. However, seagoing vessels produce noxious ship exhaust gases with their use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) as fuel. According to information by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA), 60% to 90% of the traffic related sulphur dioxide(SO2)-emissions in port towns and cities can be ascribed to the use of HFO of seagoing vessels.

The International Maritime Organization IMO has recognized this issue and has adopted several measures. Among others, IMO declared North American waters and the North and Baltic Sea to be Emission Control Areas. Additionally, the energy efficiency of ships is to be improved. 

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Emission Control Areas in the North and Baltic Sea and North America

The North andBaltic Seahave been named Sulphur Emission Control Areas, so-called SECAs, by the IMO. While operating in these regions the sulphur content of the fuel used by ships may only be a maximum of 0.1%. The aims of this requirement are to lower sulphur emissions by marine traffic and improve the quality of the air in the ports and in the territorial seas.

Furthermore, in the North American sea territory, including Hawaii as well as the Caribbean under  US administration, in a distance of 200 nautical miles to the shore a sulphur content of no more than 0.1% in marine fuel is mandatory (Emission Control Area, ECA). In addition, stricter requirements for nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) will apply for new ships from 2016.

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Global sulphur limit

Outside the European and North American emission control areas, the limit in the exhaust emissions of ships is 0.50 % SOX. Ships may not carry any high-sulphur heavy fuel oil either. In Germany, the compliance with these requirements is monitored by the waterway police, port State control and the ship emission monitoring network of the BSH, which takes its measurements of the exhaust plumes of ships in German ports. These provisions are explained in more detail in an information leaflet.

If the ship operator cannot obtain low-sulphur fuel oil because it was not available in the respective port, the attempts to do so have to be sufficiently documented and reported to the competent authorities ( and using this FONAR format (Fuel Oil Non-Availability Report - FONAR). The reporting with the FONAR format might be considered as exculpatory in preliminary proceedings. The breach of the carriage ban may lead to detainment of the ship by port State control. No exemptions are possible regarding the compliance with the sulphur limit of 0.50 % in ship exhaust emissions.

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Map ECAs

Various possible solutions for lower sulphur content

In maritime transport Heavy Fuel Oil is still the most used fuel for ship engines. The required content of 0.10% sulphur in the fuel, however, cannot be achieved with HFO. Therefore, many shipping companies and charterers use Marine Gas Oil (MGO) which is low in sulphur.

Ships can alternately run on HFO and MGO with a minor conversion of the engine plant. However, MGO is considerably more expensive than HFO.
An alternative to MGO are Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) units, so called scrubbers. These units either bind the sulphur compounds with limestone substrate to form gypsum (so called dry scrubbing systems) or the sulphur is washed out with sea water or fresh water with added caustic soda. The installation of scrubbers aboard a ship is expensive and takes up relatively large areas of space thus reducing the available cargo space.

Another solution to complying with the requirement of low sulphur content is the operation with liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel. LNG is natural gas cooled down to -162° Celsius, which is then available in liquid form. The whole engine plant needs to be equipped for the use of LNG which requires an expensive conversion for operating ships. At present, a comprehensive number of LNG stations is still missing at many ports. On the other hand, burning LNG is considerably cleaner in comparison to common fuels. Experts in the shipping industry expect in the medium-term to long-term an increased use of LNG in maritime transport.
LNG will gain more and more significance for maritime transport under German flag as well. MS “Helgoland” of the shipping company Cassen Eils and MS “Ostfriesland” of the shipping company AG “Ems” are the first ships with LNG propulsion under German flag.

Other alternative fuels such as methanol, biodiesel, hydrogen, batteries or Ultra Low Sulphur Heavy Fuel Oil (ULSHFO) are not yet a realistic alternative because a comprehensive implementation would mostly fail for reasons of low economic efficiency or limited availability. Some of these solutions are already suitable for niche areas, however.

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bild luftverunreinigung und energieffizienz

Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships (EEDI)

Ship exhaust gases can not only be reduced by the use of higher quality fuels or exhaust gas cleaning systems, but also by increasing the energy efficiency of a ship. For this reason the International Maritime Organization IMO has adopted an amendment to MARPOL annex VI to increase the energy efficiency of new ships.

All new ships  must now have a so called Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). The EEDI is an index for new ships indicating the CO2 -emissions per ton of cargo and nautical mile sailed. The energy efficiency of tankers, bulk carriers and container ships can be calculated depending on the ship’s size by a formula. There are also formulas for other types of ships such as ferries, passenger ships or special types of ships (e.g. tugs and supply vessels).

In addition, a reference line for every type of ship is established. The EEDI of the individual ship may not exceed the reference line. This reference line shall be re-adjusted at fixed intervals (four phases) to the technical advances in ship technology.

The aim of the EEDI is a reliable and transparent basis for comparison to promote the development of more efficient ships and at the same time specify a minimum efficiency of new ships depending on the type and size of ship. The IMO aims at a CO2 reduction for new ships of 20% to 30% within a time span of 12 years.

Here you can find more information about EEDI:

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Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)

Another measure to increase energy efficiency on board of ships is the introduction of a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). The ship owner of existing ships (not only new ships) is required to develop such a management plan on the basis of the IMO guidelines and to keep it permanently on board. This plan should reflect all parameters influencing fuel consumption during operation. These include the calculation of the most economical ship speed, but also weather routing, currents and optimized trim depending on the ship’s loading condition. The SEEMP is flexible, without mandatory requirements for CO2-reduction. This plan will hopefully help to reduce CO2 emissions of existing ships by 15 to 20 %.

The IMO has issued the Resolution MEPC.213(63) - 2012 Guidelines for the development of a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)

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International Energy Efficiency (IEE) certificate

The flag state confirms with the International Energy Efficiency Certificate (IEE certificate) that there is

  • A Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) as well as
  • an EEDI  (only new ships from 1 July 2013)

in place. The IEE certificate is mandatory for any ship on international voyages with a size of 400 GT and above.

The BG Verkehr issues the certificate for ships under German flag on the basis of a survey by a class.

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