Nippon Paint unveils new tool for diverless hull inspections

Nippon Paint unveils new tool for diverless hull inspections
Hiro Yamashita setting up Nippon’s Hull Monitor system for an inspection on a large container vessel

Nippon Paint Marine has developed an underwater hull inspection tool that can examine a ship’s hull coating without divers or a remotely operated vehicle. The inspection process can be performed by a single inspector on dry land or from a boat.

Simple by design but highly effective, the NPM Hull Monitor System uses state-of-the art GoPro camera technology attached to a 10m telescopic pole to quickly inspect the in-water condition of a vessel’s antifouling paint. A live video feed is relayed to the operator’s smart phone for real-time monitoring and recording. The entire set up can easily be packed into a small case and carried as regular luggage on an aircraft.

Dozens of vessels have already been inspected using the device, which Nippon Paint Marine technical manager Atsuhiro “Hiro” Yamashita said has reduced paint inspection timescales and associated costs considerably.

“The NPM Hull Monitor has already been deployed with several vessels’ underwater hull coatings inspected using the device from shoreside and a small boat.

“With the limitation of the pole length, it might not be able to cover entire underwater surface of the vessel, however the video image brought from the system was good enough to evaluate the underwater coating system as, in most cases, the areas around, and a certain depth from the waterline, show the most severe condition for underwater and antifouling coating systems.”

As a market leader in ships’ antifouling systems Nippon Paint Marine needed a quick, reliable, portable and cost-effective monitoring system to allow underwater inspections without the need for costly divers or ROVs.

Test video showing the Hull Monitor’s HR capability at Nippon’s R&D Centre by the sea in Japan

The widespread development and availability of small, digital underwater hobby cameras enabled the coatings leader to develop and tailor the system.

The camera can record 4,000 hours of high-definition video with real-time monitoring possible via a smartphone, feeding back standardised reports to the company’s R&D or technical teams.

The method has been especially beneficial in the development of new underwater coating products.

“By using our own underwater inspection tools, we are able to make much quicker assessment on the performance of new coating systems more effectively, rather than sending divers down. It allows us to speed-up the development process by checking progress over time in real-life scenarios. Our teams are now able to quickly inspect vessels wherever they are.”