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Maritime Logistics Professional

May 26, 2020

Tech Talk: Wallenius Wilhelmsen Puts Hull Grooming to the Test

Photo credit Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Photo credit Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Even as shipowners enjoy record low bunker fuel pricing, the search for hull cleaning and fuel-saving optimization continues. Jotun, which recently launched 'hull skater' hull grooming, found a willing partner in Wallenius Wilhelmsen -- an operator of a fleet of 126 RoRo vessels, 11 marine terminals and 71 processing centers globally -- to put the hull skater to the test.

For the past decade, Wallenius Wilhelmsen has produced an annual Sustainability Report, describing initiatives undertaken to reduce the company’s emissions and safeguard life below the water line, among other target areas. 

According to Geir Fagerheim, SVP Marine Operations for Wallenius Wilhelmsen, the company has a holistic approach to reducing emissions that includes everything from weather routing to engine optimization, hull coatings to sophisticated hydrodynamic hull, rudder and propeller design.

“In 2019, the company achieved a 11 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from the year before, due in part to technical improvements,” he said.
 “Achieving zero emission vessels won’t be easy, but we recognize that by taking a collaborative approach to common challenges, we can accelerate the development of technologies that can make a difference. Jotun Hull Skating Solutions certainly fits that description.”

Photo credit Wallenius Wilhelmsen

New Tech

Jotun Hull Skating Solutions consists of five solution components; A high performance antifouling coating SeaQuantum Skate, proactive condition monitoring, inspection and proactive cleaning with advanced underwater robotic Jotun HullSkater, high-end technical service and performance and service level guarantees that fit the most challenging operations. In 2016, Jotun approached Wallenius Wilhelmsen to pilot-test the system on board one of their vessels.

While Wallenius Wilhelmsen was skeptical, Fagerheim said that Hull Skating Solutions (HSS) is proactive, not reactive. “By removing slime and fouling before organisms have time to firmly attach to the hull, HSS not only helps owners reduce fuel costs and corresponding emissions, it helps vessels stay in compliance with increasingly strict local and global regulations designed to protect marine ecosystems from alien invasive species."

Hull Grooming Tech Put to the Test

In 2017, Wallenius Wilhelmsen gave the HSS team access to the Talisman, a DWT 38500 RoRo carrier built in 2000. Geir Axel Oftedahl, Jotun’s Business Development Director (Marine), said that owners install the Hull Skater on board the ship. “High powered magnets attach the unit to the hull, allowing it to perform underwater inspections and proactive cleaning using HD cameras and a specially designed brush that does not damage the antifouling coating or release biocides into the water,” he said.

The HSS Project Team applied antifouling test patches on the hull, installed the unit on board and provided training for crew members on maintenance, deployment, retrieval and storage of the unit. Once underwater, the unit is remotely controlled. “We can operate HullSkater units all over the world from our control center here in Norway, day and night,” says Oftedahl.  “We learned that depending on the size of the vessel, cleaning and inspection can take between 2-8 hours.”

Oftedahl notes that the company’s multi-year pilot test with Wallenius Wilhelmsen (and other owners, including Berge Bulk and Maersk) provided the project team with valuable insight on what worked – and what didn’t. “In addition to providing us the opportunity to test the unit under different operational conditions, Wallenius Wilhelmsen was also instrumental in helping us reach out to port authorities to ensure we could operate in compliance with local regulations,” says Oftedahl.

Berge BulkMaerskNorway