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Bunkering requirements for ships

Our rules promoting the safe, spill-free bunkering of ships help decrease the number of spills in Washington's waters. Learn more about these rules and about the resources we offer that promote best practices for bunkering.

What is bunkering?

Ships often load fuel — a process called bunkering — when at Washington's ports. Our bunkering rule applies to all operations to refuel a self-propelled covered vessel 300 gross tons or more, and to all owners, operators, persons-in-charge, and other personnel involved in bunkering in state waters.

Rules for safe bunkering include but are not limited to:

  • A written pre-loading plan
  • Work-hour limitations for bunkering personnel
  • A training session for crew involved in bunkering
  • Safe access between the receiving vessel and the delivering vessel or facility
  • A face-to-face pre-transfer meeting between the persons-in-charge
  • A dedicated deck-rover to look for spills
  • Specific communication procedures
  • Compliance with federal rules for oil transfers
Our inspectors regularly board visiting commercial ships to determine if they comply. Find out what we look for.
Four ships involved in refueling with a boom surrounding all of them.

Our bunkering rule has helped decrease the number of large oil spills in Washington. Our bunkering best practices manual helps mariners comply with our rule.

Support for best practices

We provide guidance, checklists, and best practices information for complying with our rules for safe bunkering: