25 Aug 2021
Vessel hull cleaning specialist HullWiper Ltd has continued its global expansion as more people in the marine industry continue to buy into this eco-friendly alternative using remotely operated vehicles (ROV). “As more entities enter the hull cleaning marketplace, to stay at the top, we need to stay ahead of the game,” declared Managing Director Simon Doran amid the company’s continuing drive towards a sustainable future. Profile by Andy Probert.
Its 10th anniversary may well be on the horizon, but HullWiper remains the game-changer in the hull cleaning market. As a diver-free eco-friendly alternative to traditional methods, HullWiper’s technology removes divers and their equipment from the equation, eliminating the risk to human life.
HullWiper was launched in the UAE, but has grown rapidly, adding new locations in the Middle East, and is now established in ports in Australia, Denmark, Egypt, Mauritius, Norway, Panama, Singapore and Sweden.
“We recently expanded in Gibraltar and launched in three new locations: Namibia, South Korea, and Sri Lanka,” commented Simon Doran, Managing Director.
HullWiper’s ROV enables vessels’ hull sub-surfaces to be efficiently and remotely cleaned without disruption. It sprays adjustable high-pressure seawater jets directly onto a ship’s hull at high velocity to dislodge waste materials compared to traditional methods of scrubbing, using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.
Using the ROV to remove fouling, ship owners’ benefit from optimal performance and energy efficiency savings, minimising damage to anti-fouling coatings. And with no divers used, there is no risk to human life, and cleaning can be done day or night, in most weather conditions, while cargo or bunker fuel operations are underway.
Rather than pollute local port water and risk the spread of harmful invasive species, HullWiper collects the marine foul residues and pumps them into a filter onboard the ROV unit. These are deposited into dedicated drums onshore and collected by a locally approved environmental waste disposal company.
The effectiveness of HullWiper’s filter system in cleaning wastewater is verified by AMT Environmental, an environmental analysis and consulting professional.
A clean hull improves a vessel’s speed and reduces carbon emissions, while significant savings can be achieved in the total ship operating costs. The build-up of marine organisms on hulls causes frictional drag as ships move through the water, increasing fuel consumption by up to 40%.
Proactive hull cleaning utilising HullWiper’s technology can, over a two-year period, contribute to fuel savings of approximately $484,500 for a 50,000 DWT diesel tanker and up to $816,000 for a 200,000 DWT steam tanker.
In taking a coating-protection approach, HullWiper’s cleaning performance is approved by several paint giants, including Jotun Group, Chugoku Marine Paints, AkzoNobel’s Marine & Protective Coatings, Sigma Coatings and SeaCoat Technology.
The company has also launched a self-contained 40ft container to meet the need for eco-friendly and safe hull cleaning operations at remote FPSO/FSRU locations. One of these air-conditioned units is located in Walvis Bay, Namibia, for quick and easy mobilisation and demobilisation for vessels calling at the port or outer port limits and additional locations associated with oil and gas-related vessels.
Mr Doran said: “We are continually looking at ways to enhance our units’ capabilities, increase efficiencies and provide more options for our principals.
“As ROV hull cleaning or hull cleaning with biofouling capture systems become more widespread, and with increased legislation, we have seen interest growing and more entities entering the marketplace. So to remain at the top, we need to stay ahead of the game.”
Mr Doran continued: “Transparency is first and foremost in doing business honestly and ethically. Offering cost-effective solutions that meet and exceed clients’ expectations is a win-win for all. We offer our principals an environmentally sustainable service as sustainability should be on everyone’s agenda.”
As the company has expanded, so has its business model. It now offers an onboard solution for vessels, cruise ships and superyachts to add greater flexibility for cleaning-on-demand, and a lease solution through selected partnerships worldwide at locations where HullWiper does not have an operational base.
“HullWiper’s onboard solution allows the ROV to be included in the design phase for newbuilds by way of an on-deck solution, door or hatch in the side of the hull or even a futuristic moon pool,” he said. “This provides ship owners and operators with greater flexibility to clean on demand without interruption to their timetables or tight schedules.”
Studies show that ships are one of the biggest contributors to waste streams, including harmful CO2 emissions, pollution, and IAS transfer. As a result, ports, governments and shipping industry associations worldwide are implementing stricter measures to combat the spread of marine biofouling.
“Proactive cleaning helps minimise the spread of invasive aquatic species and ensures lower carbon emissions. A clean hull reduces a vessel’s carbon footprint by increasing their propulsion and engine system efficiency and enhancing fuel consumption performance.”
Mr Doran reflected that while HullWiper’s global expansion was temporarily slowed during the pandemic, “it provided a timely reminder to take a deep breath and re-evaluate where we were and where we want to be. The world still relies on shipping, and we continue to provide sustainable hull cleaning solutions at global locations.”
HullWiper is one of four founding members of the IMO’s Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety. GIA works with the IMO’s GloFouling Partnerships Project to help accelerate the development of technology solutions that help prevent hull fouling.
GIA members work with the IMO and its UN agency partners to leverage human, technological and financial resources, facilitate industry input into policy decisions, create a positive pull for reform processes, and drive development and dissemination of technical solutions to improve biofouling management.
The company is also actively involved with BIMCO and NACE (now AMPP) and is on the technical steering committee, writing the active legislation for hull cleaning and inspection standards globally. HullWiper’s operations are in line with IMCA and IMO guidelines and are carried out under local legislation.
Looking ahead, Mr Doran said international institutions such as IMO, BIMCO, VMCC, NACE, ACT/MERC and IMarEST are moving closer to a common global standard for maintaining a hull free from invasive aquatic species. Methods will include a biofouling management plan and record book, anti-fouling system installation and management and in-water inspection, cleaning and maintenance.
He concluded: “I think legislation will have the greatest impact and be the driver for technology: autonomous shipping for innovation, biofouling resistant coatings and for a sustainable industry that sees zero greenhouse gasses and zero pollution of our seas and oceans.
“Going the extra nautical mile to save marine life isn’t a question. It’s the only answer. And HullWiper is determined to continue to be part of that solution.”
Source: Inside Marine