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Under water hull cleaning: Avoiding the hidden costs lurking below the waterline
24 Oct 2017

Under water hull cleaning: Avoiding the hidden costs lurking below the waterline


What is ‘hull biofouling’?

Once a ship is put out to sea, a lot from the water can latch on to the vessel’s underbelly: sea weed, light slime, tubeworm, hard barnacle growth and much more. This accumulation of marine algae and assorted microorganisms across the hull’s surface is collectively known as hull biofouling.

Usually, we come across two types of biofouling. The first is hard biofouling, which is caused by barnacles and mollusks. Hard biofouling is also known as calcareous. The other is soft biofouling (non-calcareous), which is primarily formed due to algae.

Affecting hydrodynamic performance

Hull biofouling is undoubtedly undesirable. If left unattended, it can have a negative impact on the vessel’s hydrodynamic performance. It results in higher operating costs or decreased speed (lower max speed). Since fuel accounts for almost 50% of the costs in marine transportation, hull biofouling is detrimental from the viewpoint of economical vessel operations. Moreover, it can also interfere with the functioning of the sensors mounted on the hull.

Impact on the environment 

Hull biofouling leads to increased hull frictional resistance, also known as drag, which renders the vessel more sluggish. More power is required to spin the propellers, which means higher fuel consumption. This increases greenhouse gas output and other harmful emissions that pollute the earth’s environment.

Endangering marine ecology

Most large commercial ships traverse the world’s oceans, clocking up thousands of miles between consecutive dry docks. As they navigate the seas, they carry marine organisms with them out and away from their natural habitats. The newly introduced species often grow at an uncontrolled rate in their new home, endangering the local marine environment. This translocation of non-indigenous marine species (NIS) to different geographical territories can have an adverse effect on local marine life, apart from reduction of marine biodiversity.

KBAM – engage the hull cleaning experts

As a ship owner or operator, you are deeply concerned about hull biofouling and look for ways to keep your vessel’s hull clean. At KBA Marine, we come across as your trusted partner in hull cleaning. Our diving operations are carried out in total consonance with the Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations; we adopt practicable measures and safe work procedures to minimise and control risk in the diving activity.

Our professional approach is in sync with the best industry standards, whereby only procedures, equipment and trained divers certified under Singapore National Recognised training requirement of ISO 29990:2010 Standard or equivalent are engaged for any project tasks. This would mean carrying out diving works in full compliance to the Singapore Standard SS511 – Code of Practice for Diving at Work. The purpose of this Standard is to describe the competency requirements to train commercial divers to safely and competently carry out diving operations using CSCUBA (Commercial Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and SSDE (Surface Supplied Diving Equipment).

Our hull cleaning service, done in accordance with the best global industry practices, will improve your vessel’s propulsion efficiency, reduce operating costs and help you in maintaining a cleaner environment – both below and above the waterline.

To know how your ship can benefit from our top-notch hull cleaning service, please visit our Ship Maintenance Services page.

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