Cruise ships rejected from dock -
how hull management tools can help
Within the past month, two large cruise vessels have been denied access to Australasian waters due to biofouling issues on their hulls. Robots are increasingly being used to help monitor previously hidden hull conditions.
Marine biofouling can harm large vessel operations in a number of ways. One danger of biofouling is that it can increase the vessel’s drag, which can reduce its speed and fuel efficiency. This can lead to increased fuel consumption and operating costs. Additionally, biofouling can cause lengthy and expensive delays if the fouling is found to be excessive or unaccpetable for the waters being entered.
This is the problem that has been happening recently in Australia and New Zealand, with two large cruise vessels being denied entry due to hidden biofouling below the waterline. Technologies are being devloped to combat this issue and give vessel operators constant underwater knowledge of their previously hidden hull conditions.
What is Marine Biofouling?
Marine biofouling is the accumulation of aquatic organisms on underwater surfaces, such as the hulls of ships, offshore oil and gas platforms, and coastal infrastructure. Organisms such as barnacles, mussels attach themselves to a surface and begin to grow. As more organisms grow and cluster, they a form dense layer.
Biofouling can harbor invasive species that can be transported to new areas and cause harm to local ecosystems. These organisms can be introduced via the ballast water of ships or by attaching to the hull or niche areas.
Marine biofouling displayed on the underside of a small vessel.
Cruise Ships Denied Access to Australasian Waters due to Biofouling
Hull management tools are key - inwater inspection robots with 3D modeling capabilities
The maritime industry is facing challenges with inspections and compliance as the global fleet gets bigger, older, and dirtier.
New regulations require more cleaning and monitoring of hull conditions below the waterline, in order to mitigate and cost-efficiently plan around issues such as:
- fuel over-consumption
- biosecurity restrictions
- coating failures
This has led to a search for solutions that can streamline inspections and reduce costs.
One promising solution is in-water inspection robots, which allow companies to replace time-consuming manual tasks, such as divers or manual ROV operations, with largely automatic robotic inspections. These robots can perform regular visual inspections to monitor biofouling growth, making it easier for decision-makers to predict the best times for cleanings or repairs.
from four different camera angles simultaneously.
Blue Atlas Robotics 3D
advanced mapping technology
The Sentinus robot is able to navigate surfaces, included curved or cornered areas, with minimal human intervention. The robots capture steady and clear visual data which ideal for converting into interactive 3D models for detailed analysis and visualization.
Right: A 3D model of a vessel hull segment, created from the same visual footage from the video above.
Who can benefit from using robots for underwater visual inspections?
Ship owners: Whether you own a small or large commercial fleet, it is important to know the condition of your assets below the waterline in order to keep your ships running smoothly.
Using robotic inspections is the most efficient and fastest way to gather this information.
The shipping industry: The shipping industry is responsible for transporting 90% of the world’s goods. New regulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) also require additional cleaning and monitoring of vessels.
Regulatory bodies: Biosecurity officials of many countries need to regularly examine vessels below the waterline for the presence of invasive species or excessive fouling.
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