New base in Guinea extends the global outreach of the patented underwater hull cleaning technology
HullWiper has a well-established network that provides hull cleaning solutions through the deployment of its proprietary remotely operated vehicle (ROV) at key shipping hubs around the world, including Australia, Gibraltar, Mauritius, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and the UAE. One area that has remained outside of its scope of operations as it has steadily expanded, however, is Africa, but this omission has recently been rectified with the delivery of an ROV unit based in Guinea, which is now servicing the wider region.
According to HullWiper managing director Simon Doran: “The addition of Guinea to our network reflects our proactive approach to providing sustainable hull cleaning solutions to meet the environmental demands of emerging maritime markets. We are excited to extend our eco-friendly services to the West Africa region, thereby contributing to the overall environmental sustainability of the shipping industry.”
He adds: “We remain committed to our mission of offering efficient, environmentally friendly and safe hull cleaning solutions. We will continue to expand our network, explore new opportunities and deliver cutting-edge technologies to support the shipping industry’s transition towards a more sustainable future.”
HullWiper says it is focused on targeting further expansion in ways that add flexibility to help meet the diverse needs of shipowners and operators around the world. A key aspect of this strategy is its commercial leasing scheme, which allows interested parties to utilise the ROV as an addition to their existing range of services or as a foundation for establishing a new business. The ROV is available for lease anywhere that HullWiper does not currently have an operational base, the company states.
Additionally, HullWiper has been developing an onboard concept that offers various options for integrating the ROV into vessel designs, including on deck solutions, doors, hatches in the side of the hull, or even through innovative features like a futuristic moon pool. Doran says: “This allows vessels to incorporate hull cleaning capabilities from the outset and is considered to provide significant operational benefits, particularly for vessels on tight schedules. By implementing a planned rotation, vessels can perform partial or full hull cleaning at specific intervals, ensuring optimal performance and fuel efficiency. This is especially advantageous for cruise ships, for example, as they can clean their hulls at regular intervals without disruption to their timetables or inconvenience for passengers.”
HullWiper is based on well-established technology, which continues to be enhanced. Most recently, the operational software has been upgraded enabling additional functionality that makes the ROV more controllable and manoeuvrable and further includes a job report generator. Additionally, Doran points out: “We are constantly enhancing the durability of the ROV’s moving parts, including its thrusters, to ensure a longer lifespan while simultaneously reducing maintenance costs.”
While HullWiper is seeing increased demand across many vessel types, the company points in particular to growing interest in its use for cleaning the hulls of naval vessels. Currently HullWiper is involved in several trials where scientific testing is being conducted. In addition, three naval vessels from three different navies have been cleaned over the past eight months and there are plans for a fourth naval vessel to join the growing list in the near future.
There is no doubt that regulatory factors are influencing demand for HullWiper in multiple market segments. Doran suggests: “Stricter regulations aimed at controlling the harmful effects of biofouling on vessel hulls, reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating the environmental impact of heavy metals in paints are being taken onboard by ports and governments worldwide. HullWiper’s diver- and brush-free cleaning technology, utilising our ROV, meets the need for an environmentally friendly and cost-effective vessel hull cleaning solution.”
One recent initiative that HullWiper believes will further brighten commercial outlook for the technology is a new partnership with International Paint, a subsidiary of AkzoNobel, and Orobotix, an underwater drone ROV specialist, called Intertrac HullCare. This combines HullWiper’s hull cleaning solutions, International Paint’s coating schemes and regular underwater inspections using Orobotix drones. The concept behind the partnership is to allow vessels to benefit from regular inspections, analysis and reporting in order to monitor their hull condition.
“Customers receive quarterly reports with the latest ROV inspection information and annual condition reports that include assessments of biofouling development according to ISO 19030 standards,” Doran says, “harnessing the expertise of the three partners shipowners and operators can gain access to a comprehensive and sustainable solution for hull maintenance, ensuring compliance and optimising vessel performance.”
By adopting Intertrac HullCare shipowners and operators are expected to achieve fuel consumption savings, improve vessel speed and efficiency, comply with global anti-biofouling regulations and meet the reclamation standards set by BIMCO.