HullWiper | Who the hull is HullWiper?

Who the hull is HullWiper?

24 Jul 2023

Mauritius 4

Authored by HullWiper.

As vessels navigate the vast ocean, their hulls face a relentless challenge beneath the waterline: marine fouling. Over time, marine organisms and debris accumulate on the ship's hull, negatively impacting its efficiency and performance. But the impact does not stop there. Marine fouling poses a significant threat to the environment as well.

Marine fouling refers to the accumulation of organisms such as barnacles, algae, and mollusks on the hull. This not only hampers a ship's speed and fuel efficiency but also contributes to the spread of invasive aquatic species (IAS) and marine pollution. The heightened drag caused by fouling leads to increased fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), further exacerbating the shipping industry's environmental impact. Biofouling can raise a vessel's fuel consumption by up to an estimated 40%, resulting in a significant release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

For the global shipping industry where sustainability is becoming increasingly important even whilst ensuring efficiency, HullWiper has changed, and continues to evolve and change, the seascape of in-water hull cleaning solutions with our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

Beyond tradition

Traditional hull cleaning methods, such as dry docking or divers with brushes or karts, were the go-to solutions for addressing fouling. However, these methods come with their limitations and environmental concerns. Dry docking, for instance, takes the ship out of the water, which is not only time-consuming but also disrupts operations and incurs significant commercial costs. Moreover, the use of divers with cleaning tools poses obvious risks and limitations. Diver’s face physical hazards, limited visibility and potential exposure to underwater dangers. Brushes and karts can inadvertently damage a ship's protective hull coating or release toxic antifouling coating into the water column, adding risks to marine ecosystems.

As the maritime community looks to implement green operational practices, it is evident that traditional hull cleaning methods are no longer viable options. The growing awareness of environmental concerns and the need to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint have brought about an eco-conscious shift in how ships are maintained, with the industry turning its attention to innovative solutions like HullWiper.

Clean hulls, clean seas

HullWiper's ROV is designed to provide diver-free, safe, efficient, and eco-friendly underwater hull cleaning solutions. Our ROV utilises adjustable high-pressure seawater jets to dislodge fouling and marine debris from vessel hulls. Unlike traditional methods that rely on scrubbing, harsh chemicals, or abrasive materials, the ROV's water jets deliver targeted cleaning power, helping to prolong the life of anti-fouling coatings and reduce downtime maintenance costs.

The ROV's fast mobilisation and demobilisation capabilities enable efficient deployment, ensuring that cleaning operations can be conducted as promptly as required. The variable and increased cleaning speed of our system depends on the biofouling and coating conditions present on vessel hulls. Since there is no need for diver intervention, cleaning operations can be conducted while cargo work or most bunker fuel operations are underway and in almost all weather conditions. This flexibility enhances efficiency and minimises any disruptions to the ship's schedule and operations.

Our system not only effectively removes fouling but also collects the waste and residues generated during the cleaning process. Rather than polluting local waterways, the ROV captures the marine fouling and residues within its onboard filter unit. This waste is then safely disposed of onshore by a locally approved environmental waste company, ensuring proper ecological stewardship.

As an additional benefit, our ROV is equipped with onboard cameras that record the cleaning process. This feature not only provides real-time monitoring but also allows us to generate detailed cleaning reports for our customers. These reports offer valuable insights into the cleaning results and the overall condition of the hull and can be used as part of a ship’s hull maintenance and pre docking information.

Ride the green tide.

Since its operational launch in 2013 in Dubai, HullWiper has established a strong global presence in key locations starting in the Middle East, expanding into Scandinavia, and single locations at Gibraltar, Algeciras, Valencia, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Mauritius and Panama (not all locations proved viable but they did increase our market knowledge). Our ROV is available for lease where we do not have an operational base, providing an opportunity for interested parties to enhance their existing range of services or establish a new business.

Another option could be the introduction of our onboard solution which effectively enables any type of vessel to remove fouling on demand. Vessels operating on tight schedules can incorporate a planned rotation for partial or full hull cleaning. Cruise ships and superyachts can clean at every stop without disrupting their timetables or inconveniencing passengers. For newbuilds, the ROV could be seamlessly integrated into the design phase through diverse options such as an on-deck solution, a door or hatch in the hull's side, or even a moon pool.

At HullWiper, we approach all discussions with a focus on transparency, honesty, and flexibility to find the best, most cost-effective solution for our partners. We provide a comprehensive training package at our facility in Dubai to ensure that operators are well-equipped to professionally operate the ROV and maintain the equipment correctly. Our technical team also offers periodic on-site training throughout the lease term to ensure continuous proficiency. They are available around the clock to provide assistance wherever needed.

Greener oceans

With a steadfast commitment to health, safety, security, and the environment (HSSE), HullWiper operates in strict adherence to HSSE policies. All our global operations are in line with the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines and are carried out in accordance with local, regional, and international legislation. HullWiper has actively participated as a member in regulatory bodies such as the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP) and is one of the four founding members of the IMO’s Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety. Our dedication to compliance, ethics, and the delivery of transparent and trusted services underscores our commitment to providing green and clean hull cleaning solutions worldwide.

When HullWiper was started over ten years ago, it wasn’t the first ROV hull cleaning service provider. Today, more than a decade later, many more hull cleaning systems are now available, with more in development. All currently available and commercially viable hull cleaning systems have intrinsic differences: diver driven, ROV, water cleaning or plastic brush cleaning, thruster positioning and magnetic adhesion units, but they, we, us, all continue to strive for the 100% efficacy collection of biofoulings, for the purity of effluent discharge, and the ease of operations.

Today, not one service provider can do all of the above…….yet!