BIMCO-led group to set standard for underwater hull cleaning

BIMCO-led group to set standard for underwater hull cleaning

BIMCO and a group of industry partners have set out to create an internationally recognised standard in response to growing concerns over the impact of hull biofouling on the marine environment.

The group consists of eight different organisations, including paint manufacturers, shipowners and cleaning companies, with the aim to take a holistic approach to establishing an international standard that will work in practice. The standard is expected to be finalised in the autumn of 2019.

BIMCO is concerned that underwater cleaning is only allowed in a few locations around the world and says that there is a trend for coastal and port states to tighten their rules for underwater cleaning, as well as an increase in ports prohibiting it all together. As fouling increases, the resistance of a ship travelling through the water increases, leading to a less efficient ship with higher emissions.

Aron Frank Sørensen who heads the working group and heads BIMCO’s Marine Technology and Regulation said: “Creating an international standard is important. We need more places available around the world for underwater cleaning. We believe that a standard that is safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable, will encourage States to make more places for underwater hull cleaning available.”

BIMCO and its partner organisations aim to implement a standard that ensures hull cleaning is carried out in accordance with a set of specifications, that the environmental impact of the process and coating damage is controlled and that the cleaning process is planned, safe and effective.

Part of the standard will relate to the maintenance of paint and hull coatings, ensuring it is not damaged during cleaning and that debris and wash-water is collected in a practicable and sustainable manner.

The standard will also cover how shipowners can use it in their ongoing maintenance plans and, will establish an approval system for underwater cleaning companies, which is currently an unregulated market.

“What is needed today is a standard that ensures that companies providing underwater cleaning services operate to a high standard that can apply wherever in the world they operate,” said Aron Frank Sørensen.

“Everyone will benefit from it. The cleaning companies will benefit because they will have certain standards to live up to, the ports because they can rest assured that the environment is not polluted by cleaning residues, the paint manufacturers because reporting will be standardised, improving the quality of execution, and the shipowners because they will have more places available for underwater cleaning, once the entire process is regulated and safe.”

The standard will undergo practical trials prior to launch, with the aim to send it to appropriate international organisations for endorsement.