On September 21, Hempel, the world's leading coatings manufacturer, launched a service that uses underwater robots (ROVs) to perform full hull coating inspections for vessels docked in ports or at anchor. The service is currently being rolled out in major ports in the Asia Pacific region and will soon be extended to major maritime hubs around the world.
The inspection is carried out by Hempel Hull Inspection Service professionals operating an underwater robot. The underwater robot is navigated around the ship's hull by a remote-controlled thruster, which captures high-definition video footage and still images of the ship's hull for real-time evaluation.
Klaus Moeller, Group Vice President and Head of Services at Hempel, said: "The deployment of highly complex and purpose-built underwater robots to enable remote hull inspection capabilities is a significant milestone in the creation of advanced hull maintenance planning capabilities."
Moeller describes the inspection as being carried out by highly trained underwater robotics professionals who combine their unique expertise with information about the vessel's navigational activities to produce a final report. The report contains recommendations for optimizing the ship's performance and provides ship operators with a practical, accurate and consistent basis on which to make operational decisions. At the same time, the report also provides the relevant industry bodies with evidence of the ship's hull condition.
The use of Hempel underwater robots for hull inspections simplifies the process and enables more frequent and less costly hull inspections. Since no divers are required, there is no need to shut down the ship's systems to perform inspections. It can even take two hours or less to complete a full hull inspection during loading and unloading of cargo.
Christian Ottosen, Vice President and Head of Marine Coatings at Hempel Group, says: "Prudent shipowners and ship operators are moving towards evidence-based performance monitoring of all their systems and assets. At the same time, they are increasingly using tools and applications to help them understand the full range of factors that can affect a ship's performance. Hull fouling is a major contributor to loss of speed. In the worst cases, hull fouling can increase engine power requirements by almost 20 per cent over a five-year period. With underwater robots, it is possible to perform routine and continuous hull condition monitoring during routine docking, allowing owners and operators to implement appropriate maintenance schedules and thus optimize vessel performance."
Underwater robotic inspection combined with Hempel SHAPE (Hempel Hull and Propeller Efficiency System) allows underwater visual images to be matched with existing data collection systems, resulting in no-exceptional results that can improve hull performance.
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