25 May 2021
South Korea, the last stop for ships sailing east towards America, is one of the largest bunker fuel locations in the world. While vessels may use this location to top up their tanks, it would also be prudent for ship owners and operators to be mindful that to maximise fuel efficiency they need to factor in one of the leading causes that result in adding weight to their load and their pockets - biofouling.
So, what is biofouling?
Biofouling, also known as invasive aquatic species (IAS), refers to the accumulation of algae, seaweed and microorganisms that attach themselves to submerged surfaces of a seagoing platform within minutes of hitting the water. Vessel hulls and propellers remain a firm favourite spot for these marine “freeloaders'' that hitch a ride to non-native waters. This results in dramatic negative impacts to the local marine ecosystem due to the cross-pollination of these foreign species.
What are the impacts of biofouling?
The drag of a heavy hull caused by biofouling can lead to an increase in fuel consumption by up to 40% for one voyage. With fuel representing around 50% of voyage expenses, this does become a costly problem.
The transport of biofouling via vessel hulls from port-to-port results in these foreign matters invading new, unknown areas which can cause irreparable damage to local marine fauna, flora and sea life. Additionally, heavily fouled vessel hulls have a direct impact on GHG emissions from ships.
What is the solution?
Although shipping innovation has improved over time, underwater hull cleaning to remove IAS has largely remained the same for decades, until now. Traditional methods using divers with brushes or karts are being replaced with innovative hull cleaning methods that put the safety of the ocean first.
Leading the pack is HullWiper’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that offers revolutionary vessel hull cleaning services without the use of divers or harmful chemicals. HullWiper Korea now offers this environmentally friendly technology to vessels calling at major ports in South Korea, and all operations are in strict compliance with local and international rules and regulations.
Operated by trained technicians, HullWiper’s ROV is an eco-friendly, safe and diver-free hull cleaning solution that protects vessel coatings, and ship owners/operator’s bottom line.
It uses adjustable high-pressure seawater to dislodge waste materials and minimise the risk of damage to expensive anti-fouling coatings on vessel hulls, without the aggressive scrubbing, harsh chemicals or abrasives employed by traditional methods. No divers are used which saves costs and reduces the risk to human life.
HullWiper does not discharge removed biofouling into the sea; it collects marine fouling removed from hulls into its onboard filter unit for safe disposal onshore, which is then collected by a locally approved environmental waste company.
HullWiper Korea has built an eco-friendly vessel, Esther, to transport the two ROV’s to perform hull cleans at Busan, Ulsan, Pohang, Masan, Jinhae, Yeosu and Gwangyang ports.
Keeping in mind that time is money for ship owners, both ROV’s can be deployed at the same time to carry out cleans in half the time it would take using one ROV. All operations are conducted with the highest standards of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) protocols.
Go green with HullWiper
International institutions are moving closer towards a common global standard for maintaining a hull free from IAS. Methods will include a biofouling management plan and record book, anti-fouling system installation and management, as well as in-water inspection, cleaning and maintenance.
By employing a biofouling management system and plan, ships can benefit from increased speed and reduced fuel consumption as well as avoiding potential fines or penalties from ports and authorities which are becoming increasingly stringent with conditions to allow a vessel into their port waters. With HullWiper Korea, cleaning can be done to fit your vessel’s schedule and to maintain a spotless hull cleaning record.
South Korea is the latest addition to HullWiper’s global network of green hull cleaning solutions. Other locations include Australia, Denmark, Egypt, Gibraltar, Mauritius, Namibia, UAE, Norway, Panama, Singapore, Sweden and Sri Lanka.
Check out our online Fuel Savings Calculator to compare the financial benefits of hull cleaning with the HullWiper compared to traditional methods.