HullWiper | Underwater hull cleaning in Gibraltar

Hull Cleaning in Gibraltar

13 Apr 2021

13 Apr21 Hull Cleaning in Gibraltar Photo

Rich in ancient history, Greek Mythology states that the straits of Gibraltar have played a major role in human civilisation from before 500 BC. Famed for being the closest maritime link between the European and African continents, the narrowest point at the straits of Gibraltar are just 13 kilometers apart, where it is possible to see the opposite side on a clear day. Without the straits, global maritime trade would come to a grinding halt as alternative routes may take too much time to cover or might not be safe due to piracy or weather conditions.

The straits of Gibraltar are also the meeting point of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The exact point at which these two waters meet is known as Europa Point, the Southernmost point of the lberian Peninsula. Surprisingly, there is almost a distinct, visible difference between these waters, as they form a chemical transition boundary called halocline.

A protected gradient between two varying saline zones, the halocline allows a larger amount of fauna to live away from the surface by remaining within the denser lower halocline region. Internal waves, caused by the rapid ocean flow, are created at the mouths of the straits causing a recirculatory current which brings about various species from other regions to Gibraltar.

Although rather glorious sights of larger mammals and animals have been caught, the breeding of all marine life is also abundant including organisms such as plants, algae and small creatures which are not always welcomed by shipping fleets.

The accumulation of these creatures (also known as biofouling) on ship hulls is unavoidable with negative impacts on the efficiency of fleets as well as marine eco-systems. The effects of biofouling include:

The extra drag of biofouling on a ship's hull increases the stress on vessel engines and fuel consumption by up to 40%. Considering that fuel makes up close to 50% of operational costs, biofouling could become a costly expense for ship owners and operators.

Biofouling left unattended can begin to cause corrosion on submerged surfaces leading to an increase in drydocking for repairs - another expensive consequence.

As vessels travel to and from different areas, non-indigenous organisms known as Invasive Aquatic Species (IAS) can be transported through foulers on ship hulls and ballast water of large ships. The introduction of these marine hitchhikers in unchartered territory can impact biodiversity severely as they compete with local fauna and flora. Issues can include:

  • Battling native species for food and space
  • Preying on native species
  • Altering environmental conditions, species habitat and the food web
  • Reducing local biodiversity, displacing and potentially causing extinctions of local organisms

Traditional hull cleaning methods often involve divers during the cleaning and maintenance process. Murky waters and entanglement or hooking of divers under the vessel hull can be extremely hazardous, sometimes even fatal.

A reduction in local marine life can also have an affect on those whose livelihoods (ie. fishermen) depend on them as a source of income.


Although countless traditional hull cleaning methods exist, HullWiper’s hull cleaning Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) features are unmatched. Here’s why:

Without the use of divers, HullWiper’s innovative ROV uses adjustable high-pressure seawater jets to clean dirty hulls. Unlike damage caused by brushes using conventional cleaning methods that abrade cleaned surfaces - which can create grooves that promote the re-growth of slime, algae and barnacles - the ROV preserves the vessel's top coating.

HullWiper cleans up to five (5) times faster than other hull cleaning methods and lasts two to three times longer in between cleans.

Cleaning can be completed while cargo or bunker fuel operations are underway, day or night, and in most weather conditions ensuring no delay to vessel schedules.

Regular hull maintenance with HullWiper can help ship owners and operators save up to 40% of increased fuel consumption. Below are three examples* of potential fuel savings over a two-year period of underwater hull cleaning:

Example 1: 50,000dwt diesel tanker: 1,900 tons = USD 484,500.00
Example 2: 50,000dwt steam tanker: 2,500 tons = USD 637,500.00
Example 3: 200,000dwt steam tanker: 3,200 tons = USD 816,000.00

See how much more efficient your fleet could be with HullWiper’s free Fuel Savings Calculator.

When to get a hull clean in Gibraltar

Tell-tale signs that your vessel’s hull and propellers are in need of a clean are usually:

  • When there is a noticeable decrease of a ship's speed and increase in fuel consumption
  • Upon vessels return after a long voyage
  • Before organising planned underwater inspections
  • When experiencing reduced efficiency of the on-board cooling system

HullWiper is proud to be teamed up with SCAMP in Gibraltar who has delivered cost effective solutions to the shipping industry for over 50 years! Get in touch via [email protected] to book a hull clean or visit our website for more information.

HullWiper also offers cleaning in Dubai including key locations across the Middle East, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Spain, Namibia, Egypt, Australia, Panama, and Mauritius!

* Data accurate at time of publishing