Shipowner U-Ming has ordered Jotun’s Hull Skating Solutions (HSS) for its new 190,000-DWT dual fuel bulk carrier. The HSS consists of an underwater robotic device with hull inspection and cleaning capabilities, and SeaQuantum Skate, a purpose developed antifouling coating.

The hull-cleaning solution will be fitted on one of U-Ming’s four LNG dual-fuel Tier III bulk carriers to be built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding to support the long term charter with mining giant Anglo American.

‘With HSS we can deliver the promise of an “always clean hull” from day one to maximise the benefits of lower fuel costs, full flexibility in operations and effective biofouling management,’ says Morten Sten Johansen, regional marine director, North East Asia for Jotun.

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He adds: ‘Bulk carriers have sailing patterns that are highly dependent on market forces. Shifts in global commodity markets can change the expected idling time, geographical routes and port calls, exposing the vessel to high risks of biofouling that coatings alone may not be sufficient to address. On top of the advanced robotics, Jotun’s HSS also includes proactive condition monitoring – using vessel data, oceanographic assessments and predictive algorithms to adapt the system on the fly.’

Hull-cleaning robot

The system is designed and optimised for proactive cleaning using non-abrasive brushes to remove fouling without damaging the anti-fouling coating. The HullSkater is kept onboard at all times in a portable unit station with launch and recovery ramp. No divers are used so the robot can be used not only when the ship is in harbour, but also at anchor.

The proactive cleaning approach minimises performance loss with no debris or waste so it is safe and environmentally friendly. The HullSkater has high capacity and is remotely operated from shore via 24/7 operating hubs. The system also has high definition inspection capabilities through multiple camera feeds, enabled by cloud-based storage, and self-supplied power. All digital data is uploaded to the cloud.

U-Ming’s vessels are expected to be delivered throughout 2022/2023.