Robotic hull cleaning tech gets Dutch approval

Robotic hull cleaning tech gets Dutch approval

Robotic hull cleaning system maker ECOsubsea has won acceptance by the Port of Rotterdam to offer its hull cleaning solution.

The Dutch national regulatory body, Rijkswaterstaat, has given the Norwegian company the green light to start offering hull cleaning services to vessels at all Dutch Ports including Europe’s biggest port, the Port of Rotterdam. The move is helping the firm to solidify its position in Europe following similar permissions in Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Southampton.

ECOsubsea’s system works by having a robotic cleaning system move over a ship’s hull, gently removing the fouling off the hull without damaging the vessel’s hull coating. The ECOsubsea system consists of a sophisticated and reliable remotely operated vehicle that crawls along the ship hull. The system removes over 97 per cent of all the fouling detritus, which is then safely pumped ashore or onto a barge, where it is filtered out of the water and sent ashore for processing. Tests by ECOsubsea and seen by the ports that are keen to see the system used, show that virtually all of the detritus taken off the hull will be sent ashore.

This is an important factor for ports that are increasingly concerned that heavy metals and micro-plastics, which are often found in hull coatings, may contaminate their waters when hulls are cleaned.

“Ports want evidence that our system works,” said ECOsubsea CEO Tor Østervold. “We can now give it to them. They also want evidence that vessels have active hull biofouling plans, and we are helping operators and ports with the digital implementation of that too,” he added.

Klaus and Tor Østervold – COO and CEO of ECOsubsea

“At the end of last year we were only in Southampton,” Mr Østervold  continued. “Now we are in a growing number of ports including Amsterdam and Rotterdam.”

The port of Rotterdam’s breakbulk business manager Irene Bennett points to the role the Authority plays in generating a healthier environment, primarily concerning air quality, noise and the natural environment and biodiversity and water quality.

“We recognise that efficient cleaning of ship hulls is better for the water quality in the port and reduces CO2 emissions and fuel costs,” she said. “The advantages of initiatives like ECOsubsea will enhance the sustainability of the entire transport chain. The Port of Rotterdam is therefore happy to promote initiatives that fit in well with our corporate social responsibility goals.”

ECOsubsea has been working closely with a number of ship operators, including Carnival, Wallenius Wilhelmsen and Hoegh Autoliners.