The Shipboard Technology Evaluation Program (STEP) is intended to facilitate the development of effective ballast water management system technologies, to create more options for vessel owners seeking alternatives to ballast water exchange. STEP participation is available to all foreign and domestic vessels subject to the Coast Guard’s Ballast Water Management (BWM) regulations in   33 CFR 151 subparts C and D. Technology developers and vessel owners have expressed the need for incentives that will encourage the development of prototype treatment systems and shipboard testing.  However, vessel owners have expressed a reluctance to invest the resources to install and operate an experimental treatment system that might not meet discharge standards mandated by future regulations.  To address this concern, vessels accepted into this voluntary, no-cost program may be granted an equivalency to future ballast water discharge standard regulations, for up to the life of the vessel or the system, while their BWM system operates satisfactorily.


A current list of STEP-approved vessels is provided. These vessels are engaged in researching and developing new or prototype ballast water treatment systems or are pursuing U.S.C.G type approval under the supervision of an Independent Laboratory (IL). For questions concerning this program, contact by email to, or call (202) 372-1429.


IMPORTANT: Please submit applications to the U.S. Coast Guard at The STEP application incorporates fully validated experimental design parameters developed through the US Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) process, as well as ETV harmonized shipboard testing requirements. We also have incorporated provisions for enrolling multiple ships under a single application. Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 01-04 (NVIC 01-04) establishes the process and gives additional information for vessel owners to apply to STEP. The application format is intended to assist applicants to prepare and submit all necessary information in a clear and consistent manner, thus facilitating the review process. Potential applicants should familiarize themselves with the contents of this guidance before completing the application. There is NO CHARGE for applying to or being enrolled in STEP. A fillable Word document of this application is available upon request.