Risk of Biofouling Grows Amid Idle Ships, Study Says


  • Covid pandemic and port congestion coupled with warming waters means ships are at increased risk from biofouling.
  • Percentage of ships subject to ‘fouling idling’ increased constantly since 2009 from a starting point of 25.4% to a peak of 35.0 % in May 2020.
  • At the peak of idling in 2020 peak, almost half of all container vessels at fouling idling had long idling periods of more than 30 days, exposing the vessels´ hulls to an extreme risk of hard fouling.
  • In February 2020, 61.8% of idling bulker vessels were located in medium or warm waters with high exposure to marine growth.

A new study reveals the COVID pandemic and subsequent port congestion and increased vessel idling, coupled with warming waters means ships are at increased risk from biofouling, reports Splash247.

Biofouling leading to excess emissions

The study from Swedish technology company I-Tech also shows the adverse effect that ship hull fouling has on vessel performance and that it gives rise to significant financial and environmental penalties for the shipping industry due to the increase in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

The study shows over 40% of the vessels surveyed had a barnacle fouling coverage on the hull of more than 10%. This level of biofouling could be responsible for at least 110m tonnes of excess carbon emissions.

Clean hull for fleet decarbonisation 

Only a few premium coatings offer guarantees based on 30 days idling and the vast majority may stop after 14 or 21 days. However, the study has proven that it is not uncommon for a vessel to be idling for more than 30 days, and in some cases even longer than 45 days.

With the industry still facing its looming IMO greenhouse gas reduction targets and the impending introduction of EEXI and CII for existing ships, these findings should serve as a reminder that a clean hull should be the first step of a fleet’s decarbonisation strategy according to I-Tech’s CEO, Philip Chaabane.

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Source: Splash247


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