Port of Rotterdam Adopts ROV Hull Cleaning

“There is a real and pressing need to decarbonize the shipping industry, and HullWiper is one way that vision can be achieved.”

That was the comment from Port of Rotterdam senior manager Peter Mollema as Europe’s largest port adopted the Gulf Agency Co (GAC) EnvironHull’s diver-free HullWiper hull-cleaning technology.

Using Seawater to Clean

HullWiper, which was demonstrated in the port and also won the ‘Clean Shipping’ title at the 2016 Seatrade Awards in London, is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that uses seawater under high pressure as a cleaning medium – instead of brushes or abrasives – thus minimizing damage to antifouling surfaces. It optimizes vessel performance and creates fuel-efficiency savings, as well as reducing the costs involved in recoating hulls

Speaking to NauticExpo e-Magazine, a GAC spokesman said the company had developed an online performance calculator. “It’s actually a key part of the offering. The calculator gives ship owners a very comprehensive picture of efficiencies and fuel performance increases for different ship types.

Courtesy of GAC

Courtesy of GAC

“HullWiper is controlled remotely from the shore,” he continued. “It’s wired, as you can see from the photographs taken at the Rotterdam demonstration – you can see the pipes and wires on top.

The control section is part of the same construction where the waste is taken out/water pumped through. HullWiper collects removed residues in its own attached waste unit.”

Waste Collection

Traditional hull-cleaning operations using divers with brushes have been prohibited in Dutch ports for nearly 20 years – and remain prohibited within Rotterdam’s port waters due to concerns about marine pollution.

NauticExpo e-Magazine asked GAC EnvironHull if that was a major reason to pick Rotterdam as the launch port.

“HullWiper is compatible with Rotterdam’s general ethos and range of environmental and safety initiatives,” a representative replied. “Thanks to GAC EnvironHull, a hull-cleaning service is being offered once again as HullWiper complies with all the marine environmental measures.”

Thanks to GAC EnvironHull, a hull-cleaning service is being offered once again

When asked if it could be used on pleasure craft, the GAC spokesman said that

“it’s specifically designed for large surface areas such as you’d find on LNG carriers, VLCCs, container and bulk ships. It can clean smaller craft, but the current ROV model is best suited to vessels over 100m LOA.”

Panel Discussion

Noting that the technology aligns with the port’s sustainable vision, Mollema invited the 100+ launch attendees to a panel discussion co-hosted by GAC EnvironHull and the port. Entitled “Smart Ship Technologies and Measures for Greener Ports”, it concluded with a live demonstration of HullWiper in Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Maas.

The panel included GAC’s commercial vice president Christer Sjödoff, AkzoNobel’s marine coatings global accounts manager John Willsher, A.P. Møller-Maersk’s former underwater services performance manager Gavin van Popering, and Rotterdam’s senior advisor Ron van Gelder. The discussion addressed technical and regulatory pressures on ports and operators and highlighted solutions to help vessel owners and operators save costs and remain compliant – particularly with hull maintenance.

Subsequently, one of northern Europe’s oldest ship owners is implementing a policy to use HullWiper to clean all its vessels, while a marine consultancy has expressed an interest in conducting a rigorous data analysis of HullWiper with a view to offering it to their customers as an efficiency solution.