In the new era of ECA’s and alternative fuels, vessel owners/operators are faced with important decisions with significant cost and financial risks.  The days of just using HFO without exhaust cleaning are over in the ECA’s and worldwide after 2020.  HEC has analyzed several alternative solutions for meeting the new regulations for a variety of ship types and sizes operating in a selection of trades to determine their relative merits and costs.  No single solution stands out as the “best” solution for all ships in all services.  It is hoped, however, that the analyses presented in this report will demonstrate how owners can evaluate their service requirements as well as the costs and benefits of the various options in order to determine the best fuel alternative for their vessels.

For the White Paper: Click here for a pdf

For a summary of the findings: Click here for a pdf


Four environmental organizations petitioned for review of the Vessel General Permit (VGP) issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2013. Specifically, the petition for review pertains to the regulations for ballast water discharge from ships and ballast water treatment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing parts of the 2013 VGP, and therefore remanded this matter to the EPA for further proceedings.

HEC has prepared a summary of the court ruling including an explanation of the petitioners arguments, the court rulings, and the potential impacts on the USCG’s ballast water management regulations. Click here to download Petition for Review.


Developing and maintaining a commercially competitive and relevant international presence can be a challenge for any business. Attempting to do it with the limited staff resources and capital of a small ship design and engineering company presents additional challenges. This is especially true if the goal of the firm is not rapid growth, because the usual business models for corporate expansion don’t apply in such a scenario. Still, there exist numerous examples of small and medium sized ship design and engineering firms that have a successful international presence. Our purpose here is to provide an example of how our firm, Herbert Engineering Corporation (HEC), addresses these challenges. We hope it will demonstrate how even the small can work large and worldwide while retaining a small company culture, provide work that is professionally challenging and rewarding for its employee owners and a valuable service for its clients, and be supportive of our global industry. Click here to download article Working Big, Staying Small.


Baseline EEDI curves have been proposed at IMO (ex: IMO document GHG-WG 2/2/7 and MEPC 60/4/14) based on analysis of existing ships. As all data required for calculation of the EEDI is not available from the existing ship databases, simplifying assumptions were made to facilitate the baseline calculations.  ABS and HEC have jointly conducted a study in whichstandard” ship designs were developed for tankers, containerships, and LNG carriers over a range of ship sizes.  Highly efficient hull performance and modern power plants are assumed.  By evaluating the baselines for tankers, LNG carriers, and containerships utilizing the “standard” ships, this study provides the attained EEDI that can be achieved with well-designed newbuildings prior to application of innovative technologies.  As such, they serve as an effective metric for validating the proposed EEDI baselines.  This report summarizes the findings from this study, which were submitted to SNAME T&R Ad Hoc Panel 18 tasked with investigating the EEDI.  The results were summarized into document MEPC 60/4/33 which has been submitted to IMO for consideration. Click here to read the EEDI article.


Operators, shipyards, and designers have been spending increasing amounts of time considering ballast water treatment (BWT) systems and much has been written about basic selection criteria and matching vessel characteristics and capabilities.  The list of IMO approved systems is growing and there appear to be many choices available for those ready to place an order or call out a vendor for their new building.

However, there are still some critical challenges to finding a system that can meet the discharge standards, fit in a particular vessel (especially as a retrofit), and obtain the necessary Class and Administration approvals.   To help understand the remaining hurdles we offer the following list of critical challenges to include in the search for the best solution for your vessel. Please click here for Ballast Water Treatment Considerations.


Historically, the price of fuel has been the primary driver for improved efficiency and reduced fuel consumption on commercial ships. The IMO is developing the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, which is a gauge of a ship’s CO2 efficiency. The EEDI is a simple formula that estimates CO2 output per tonne-mile. Market mechanisms will be attached to the EEDI, providing ship owners with another economic driver for reducing CO2 emissions. There are challenges in creating an EEDI and associated baseline that are straightforward enough to be enforceable and sophisticated enough to promote emissions reduction in a cost-effective manner.

ABS and HEC have jointly conducted a study which investigates the robustness of the EEDI and the potential shortcomings of the index by evaluating a parametric series of designs for three different ship types: tankers, containerships, and LNG carriers.   This report summarizes the findings from this study, which were submitted to SNAME T&R Ad Hoc Panel 18 tasked with investigating the EEDI.  The results are summarized in document MEPC 60/4/34, which has been submitted to IMO for consideration. Please click here for write-up on Influence of Design Parameters on the EEDI.


Emission Control Areas (ECAs) are in place in several regions around the world and more will undoubtedly be identified in the near future. Because of the need to change to lower sulfur fuel in the ECA their implementation will have an immediate effect on fuel costs and vessel routing, particularly in later years when distillate fuel may be the only option to meet th 0.1% sulfur limit. This paper discusses the impacts of the ECA on vessel fuel costs on routes through the North American ECA and on and the design changes required in fuel storage and service systems. Please click here to read about the costs of operating in ECA's.


In a presentation before industry groups, HEC’s Keith Michel discusses upcoming regulations and their potential impact on ship design and operations. He covers the EEDI, EEOI, SEEMP, and Market Based Measures.   Details are also provided from a joint study undertaken by HEC and the American Bureau of Shipping to evaluate the Energy Efficiency Design Index for three different ship types.  As a result of this study, two papers, MEPC 60/4/33 & MEPC 60/4/34, were reviewed by SNAME T&R Ad Hoc Panel 18 and submitted by SNAME to IMO through IMarEST for consideration at MEPC 60 in March 2010. Please click here to read presentation on Overview and Assessment of IMO's Upcoming Climate Change Regulations.


Since the first ocean going LNG carriers were built on the 1960’s, the selection of the propulsion system best suited to the ship has been somewhat different than for other ship types.  In addition to providing efficient, safe, and reliable propulsion for the ship, there must also be a means of dealing with the boil off gas (BOG) from the cargo tanks.  Initially, the only propulsion system available that could also provide a solution to the BOG issue was steam turbine propulsion which burned the BOG in the boilers.  For about 40 years the steam turbine system was the only practical choice available.  Now several new propulsion systems have been developed that provide the ship designer with alternatives.  Two systems that have been applied in new ships delivered since 2004 are the dual fuel diesel electric (DFDE) and the slow speed diesel with reliquefaction (DRL).  A third system, combined gas turbine electric and steam turbine electric (COGES) has been extensively studied but not yet applied. Please click here to read more about LNG Propulsion Alternatives.


HEC Chairman Keith Michel in a presentation at Marintec China 2009 discusses ongoing climate change research related to ship design and operation. He explains how the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can and should be a win-win scenario for both owners and the environment. Significant reductions in GHG emissions can be achieved while reducing overall costs to the shipowner. For this to happen, the GHG regulations applied to the maritime industries must:

  • encourage optimization of ship design and operations,
  • encourage cost-effective innovative technologies,
  • while not distorting competition between modes of cargo transportation.

Please click here to read more about Meeting the Climate Challenge.