Shipowners, shipbuilders and representatives from the Green Award Foundation attended the first in a series of planned ‘roadshows’ by Subsea Industries. The events have been initiated to demonstrate the zero environmental impact and simplicity of cleaning hulls protected with the Ecospeed hard coating.

Taking place last week in Maassluis, just outside Rotterdam, guests boarded Subsea Industries’ maintenance and dive support vessel to watch how vessels coated with Ecospeed can be cleaned effortlessly and legally in harbours, such as the Port of Rotterdam, which has banned the underwater hull cleaning of conventional hull coatings.

As divers set about cleaning the 22.7m catamaran’s hull, which had been coated with Ecospeed some eight years ago, it was noted that the surrounding water remained clean with only fouling being washed off the vessel. There was no paint loss or toxic plumes emitted to otherwise contaminate marine life and sediments.

This was of particular interest to environmental certification agency Green Award Foundation, whose representatives explained that environmentally-certified shipowners using Ecospeed could benefit from a 10% reduction in port fees.

Erwin Strik, Subsea Industries’ Sales Officer, said that high pressure cleaning regular anti-fouling coatings would damage the coating, resulting in costly corrosion problems.

Using specially-designed tools and equipment, divers from the underwater hull cleaning specialist Hydrex cleaned the vessel in just two hours. However, a typical VLCC would take a dive team about 12 hours at a cleaning rate of 2000m2 per hour.

“Ecospeed is not a foul-release paint but rather a coating system that requires a completely different, more cost-effective and environmentally-acceptable approach to hull protection and anti-fouling,” Strik told the industry guests.

“Paint degradation is typical of traditional marine hull coatings, resulting in the need for reblasts and recoats more or less every time the vessel docks. This repeat business model is costing shipowners dearly and is completely unnecessary.”

Subsea Industries’ Executive Director Boud Van Rompay explained: “With Ecospeed there is no need to reblast and recoat the hull; there is no chance of corrosion, no impact on the environment and, if regular hull cleaning is carried out, fuel savings of up to 40% can be achieved.

“What’s more, if Ecospeed is applied to ice-going ships and the vessel is maintained in good condition during service, Classification Societies have ruled that the thickness of steel plating may be reduced by up to 1mm. Since this is the area most prone to damage from ice impact, there are considerable savings to be made.”

The hard coat requires just two applications with a curing time of three hours between each one. A typical soft paint, however, requires four to five coats with a curing time of 12 hours between each.

Willem Hopmans, Subsea Industries’ Marine Project Officer, said: “We all have an environmental interest in what is happening in the water but we can clean Ecospeed hulls in water very quickly and without damage to the marine environment. Ecospeed is the only sustainable solution for protecting ships’ hulls and we will now take the vessel to ports around Europe to demonstrate just how safe the coating is and how simple and cost-effective it is to clean.”