Steering The Industry Towards Proactive Maintenance Of Ships’ Hulls


Shipping’s ambitions to reduce emissions have triggered efforts to operate using as little fuel as possible. In the same way that options for optimized sailings, weather routing, and energy-saving technologies (ETSs) are being considered, so too has the humble hull come into focus. 

Vessel Performance 

Never before has vessel performance been more important than today, as new regional legislation in the form of the EU ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) and international regulations such as the IMO Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) rating system come into play, affecting charter party agreements and placing renewed emphasis on efficient operations.

Ensuring the surface of a hull remains as smooth as possible enables a vessel to cut through water with minimal resistance. The less resistance, the less fuel is required to power the vessel, resulting in reduced emissions.

Industry Standards

Hughes is part of a team of scientists and engineers at LR, that works with ship operators, owners, and other shipping stakeholders to offer guidance on available technologies, ensure that technologies are delivering the desired outcomes, and, importantly, create new class notations (or standards) that companies can aspire to achieve.

As an example, LR has developed a Clean Hull notation introduced at the beginning of this year, to assess and verify that ship operators’ biofouling management plans are fulfilling the required criteria laid out by the IMO and enable operators to take proactive actions to reduce hull-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Sahan Abeysekara, LR’s Technical Specialist in the environment, was involved in creating this notation and explains that it “brings together two otherwise isolated regulatory regimes – first, the reduction of GHG emissions and second, the prevention of the spread of invasive aquatic species. It also provides a platform to synergize the two during ship operations. With LR’s Clean Hull notation, ship operators’ efforts to reduce emissions and biofouling are recognized, they benefit from increased vessel performance, reduced fuel consumption, and EU ETS tariffs, and at the same time are complying with biosecurity requirements”.

New Type Approval

Whilst the revised IMO guidelines are not mandatory, several regions already have restrictions in place regarding hull biofouling, with Australia, New Zealand, and the US West Coast amongst those to issue more stringent requirements. 

With this in mind, Hughes is introducing a new Enhanced Antifouling Type Approval, which will gather the correct data to ascertain whether the coating still performs according to the coatings’ manufacturers’ claims pre and post-cleaning.

The new type of approval is currently being trialed on an LR client’s vessel and the data provided will “give assurance that the coating will perform and that it’s compatible with the agreed cleaning schedules required for the vessel,” says Hughes, adding that these new IMO guidelines are centered on proactive hull cleaning at the slime layer stage and before shell fouling occurs.  

Performance Benefits 

Meanwhile, the commercial aspects of good hull management should not be overlooked. Whilst LR is technology agnostic, Hughes acknowledges that an appropriate coating, taking into account a vessel’s idle periods and trading patterns (water temperature, for example, can significantly impact hull fouling levels), properly applied can offer notable emissions reductions.

Dogan Uzun, LR’s Ship Performance consultant, works closely with clients to assess their vessels’ performance through short-term sea trials and long-term monitoring projects to establish vessel performance and make comparisons before and after coating technologies or other ESTs are applied. By analyzing the performance of the vessel before and after, the client can assess the efficacy of their investment about the business case for installation, environmental regulatory compliance and exposure reduction ( for example, EU ETS), and other contractual requirements.

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Source: Lloyd’sRegister