Underwater Paint Inspections -  Operational, financial & ecological impact of bio-fouling
01 Jan 2018

Underwater Paint Inspections - Operational, financial & ecological impact of bio-fouling

What is Marine Biofouling?

Biofouling is an accumulation of unwanted build-up of micro-organisms, plants, algae etc. This encrustation essentially has a three-tier effect viz, structural, financial and ecological. Unchecked, prolonged marine biofouling can adversely affect safety, performance and the fragile marine ecology.

Firstly, it can lead to structural damage; it can physically affect the hull and propeller parts. Secondly, it increases the hydrodynamic volume of the vessel, resulting in increased drag, reduced top speed and lesser fuel efficiency, which consequently ending up in higher fuel costs. Lastly, non-native marine species that are released in foreign habitats pose a threat to local marine ecology. Burning of more fuel also increases greenhouse gas emissions and results in air pollution.

A closer look at maritime paints

Maritime or marine paints are specially developed coatings that guard the hull surface against biofouling by slowing down the build-up of fouling organisms. In some instances, these paints also act as a defense against corrosion and rusting. They contain a formulation of water-soluble bioactive ingredients and organotin compounds.

Maritime paints are broadly classified into two types; self-polishing anti-fouling paints and conventional anti-fouling paints.

•    A self-polishing anti-fouling paint provides a layer of bioactive material between the water and hull surface while it wears down smoothly. 
•    On the other hand, a conventional anti-fouling paint is made up of binders and booster biocides, which leach out when they come in contact with water to prevent fouling.

However, since the release of biocides decays exponentially, the efficacy of these paints decreases rapidly after application. They have a relatively short lifetime, typically about 1.5 to 5 years.

Significance of underwater hull paint inspections

Applying the appropriate marine paint to the hull of your vessel will protect it against marine biofouling. However, the paint job needs to be checked for performance and integrity on a regular basis. An underwater hull paint inspection turns out to be a prudential, small investment, which will save time, money and effort for the ship owner/operator in the long run.

KBA Marine – your first choice for Underwater Paint Inspection

At KBA Marine, we offer highly professional Underwater Paint Inspection services. Accredited by marine classification societies (ABS, DNV, GL, Lloyds, BV) to perform UWILD i.e., Underwater Inspection In Lieu of Dry Docking, KBAM has the team and technology to carry out meticulous underwater paint inspection in tune with the latest global practices. For more information on our services, please contact us.

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