MSC buys hull cleaning robot for 14,000 TEU container ship

MSC will equip one of its container ships with Jotun’s Hull Skating Solutions (HSS). The HullSkater is a robot that removes biofouling from the hull and is controlled remotely through 4G. It is the first commercial contract for Jotun.

MSC will install the HullSkater and the specially developed high performance SeaQuantum Skate antifouling as parts of the Hull Skating Solutions, on the 14,000 TEU MSC Eva The solution will then proactively work to ensure an “always clean” vessel hull, with no biofouling, optimal efficiency, reduced fuel costs and significantly lower CO2 emissions.

Jotun developed HSS together with Kongsberg and unveiled it to the market in March this year. Designed to help shipowners facing the most severe biofouling challenges, it combines antifouling and a robotic proactive cleaner, housed onboard the chosen vessel, with proactive condition monitoring, high-end technical service, and performance and service level guarantees. Jotun operators control the HullSkater via a 4G connection, conducting cleaning and inspections in line with individual vessel schedules developed through a proprietary algorithm and big data.

The HullSkater, which utilises magnetic wheels to cling to vessel hulls, works to remove individual bacteria and biofilm before macro-fouling grows. At such an early stage, fouling can be removed without risk of damage to, or erosion of, coating nor brushes. According to Jotun, this not only delivers peak performance, but also minimises the need for reactive cleaning, cutting costs, environmental risk and optimising fleet flexibility.

Piece of the jigsaw

MSC Eva will install HSS at GWD Guangzhou Shipyard in China later in 2020, at the same time as it undergoes class renewal and scrubber installation. The vessel’s flexible sailing pattern, with exposure to differing water temperatures and environments, leads to severe biofouling. Jotun believes that if all ships facing such challenges cleaned hulls before biofouling takes hold and therefore eliminating associated drag and fuel consumption, maritime CO2 emissions could be reduced by at least 40 million tonnes per year.

‘We are acutely aware that the shipping industry needs to adopt innovative solutions to meet ambitious environmental goals,’ states Giuseppe Gargiulo, Head of Newbuildings at MSC. ‘We believe HSS will help solve the problem of biofouling, equating to strong benefits for the natural world – through reduced emissions and decreased spread of invasive species – and better results for our business, customers and society.’

He adds: ‘Clean hulls are only one piece of the jigsaw when it comes to delivering a more sustainable shipping industry, but a central piece nonetheless. MSC is committed to exploring and trialing new scalable solutions to minimise overall environmental impact, for both our business and the shipping industry as a whole.’

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.