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Like it or Not, Robots are Coming!


Like it or Not, Robots are Coming!

Since the adoption of the IMO (International Maritime Organization) biofouling guidelines MEPC.207(62) in 2011, there has been a positive sea shift in awareness of biofouling and its dual impacts: invasive aquatic species; and ship-based emissions. When added to the Convention on Control of Harmful Anti-fouling systems on ships (AFS Convention), navigating of these changes and the consequences of them around the world has provided ship owners and marine insurers even more to anticipate and comply with.

As divers, in the water daily, and year-round, attending to the underwater needs of our clients, we have both the privilege and challenge of working in a unique environment. Underwater ship maintenance and repairs have additional factors at play, so engineering innovation is part of Subsea Global Solutions’ diver-technicians DNA. We care about doing things safely, and cleaner, it is important to us.

To those less involved, hull cleaning can be perceived as a simple operation – akin to mowing a lawn – the reality is not so. Take a 300-meter ship, some underwater tidal current and often limited visibility, then navigate cleaning a vertical wall or upside down in dim light. The people who do this rightly earn respect for what they do, it is tough physical and mental work. Traditional hull cleaning brush carts often resemble a hover mower, so most do not reclaim the removed debris. Not surprisingly if the hull coating has macro fouling (barnacles, etc), the cleaning operation requires more effort.

Subsea Global Solutions carries out hull cleaning for shipping companies of all types and sizes, daily, along with a range of other related maintenance services. We have done thousands in all sorts of conditions and locations. Taking this within context, Subsea Global Solutions and SRN Group developed several approaches and systems, both remote-operated vehicles (ROV) and the reclamation of wastewater debris to provide filtration that can exceed current IMO regulations. The resulting combination of resources and know-how delivers the Subsea Global Solutions Cleaning-ROV (C-ROV) systems.

Combine the shipowner or charterers direct return on investment of fuel consumption savings for a clean ship - between 4-30% depending on the type and extent of biofouling removed, with the urge for operations to be possible in more locations and round the clock. So the C-ROV clearly has a part to play in cleaning the simpler flat surfaces and some related inspections with their high-resolution cameras. This work can be combined alongside skilled diver-technicians who complete more complex tasks like propeller polishing and niche cleaning for a comprehensive hull clean to meet standards like the Australian biofouling and the New Zealand MPI.

As a result, our company operates two Cleaning C-ROV versions: the EcoFriendly C-ROV with reclamation and filtration; and the Offshore C-ROV without filtration.

The EcoFriendly C-ROV variant has achieved port authority approval and permits in some of the most demanding locations worldwide due to its multi-stage filtration systems which can capture the fouling debris being cleaned in real time and filter wastewater to 1 micron. This means that it exceeds the IMO biofouling requirements set out in Resolution MEPC.207(62).

The more mobile Offshore C-ROV’s design, performance capabilities, and ability to be quickly modified on site for mission-specific tasks by our attending diver-technicians mean they can accommodate different hull coatings and types of micro- or macro-fouling and have achieved some notable successes, even working in West Africa out at anchorage on heavy macro-fouling.”

There are several diverse types of cleaning ROV’s out on the market and most resemble a spacecraft or high-end sports car. Ours are workhorses that have been working in the water for over five years. Robust, compact, and easy to maintain, which means we can meet clients’ needs more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Underwater ROV hull cleaning can be combined with propeller polishing or inspections and is currently available in ports of Singapore, and following European ports, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Ijmuiden, Marseille, Southampton, and Portland (UK).

We are also able to deploy the offshore variant to locations on client request to support FPSOs, such as in West Africa.

Contact our Antwerp and Singapore offices to learn more or make a booking.

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