Hull cleaning reach grows

ECOsubsea ECOsubsea has been granted permission to operate at ports in the Netherlands. Image: ECOsubsea

A sustainable robotic hull cleaning company has been given the green light to start offering hull cleaning services to vessels at all Dutch ports including Rotterdam.

Norwegian company ECOsubsea has been granted permission to operate at ports in the Netherlands from Dutch national regulatory body, Rijkswaterstaat. This move is expected to help the firm solidify its position in Europe, following similar permissions in Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Southampton.

“Ports want evidence that our system works,” said ECOsubsea CEO, Tor Østervold. “We can now give it to them. They also want evidence that vessels have active hull biofouling plans, and we are helping operators and ports with the digital implementation of that too.”

Improving performance

Vessel operators are increasingly under pressure to operate their vessels with the lowest fuel consumption, and fouled hulls are a leading cause of poor operational performance.

ECOsubsea’s system works by having a robotic cleaning system move over a ship’s hull, gently removing the fouling off the hull without damaging the vessel’s hull coating. This is an important factor for ports that are increasingly concerned that heavy metals and micro-plastics, which are often found in hull coatings, may contaminate their waters when hulls are cleaned.

The patented cleaning and suction system then draws the fouling detritus ashore or onto a barge, where it is filtered out of the water and sent ashore for processing. Tests by ECOsubsea and seen by the ports that are keen to see the system used, show that virtually all of the detritus taken off the hull will be sent ashore.

For Mr Østervold, large ports with strong environmental benchmarks are important for the evolution of the company.

“At the end of last year we were only in Southampton,” stated Mr Østervold. “Now we are in a growing number of ports including Amsterdam and Rotterdam.”

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