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Subsea Industries Provides its Hull Coating to Polar Research Ship

Published on 2017-03-02. Author : SpecialChem

Subsea Industries’ Ecospeed hull protection system has been selected for RRS Sir David Attenborough, the polar research ship under construction at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Liverpool, UK. The ship has been commissioned by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) and will be operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Unrivalled Performance with Ecospeed Hull Coating System

David Attenbourgh
Ecospeed will now be applied to Sir David Attenborough
(artist impression courtesy of BASCammell Laird)

BAS and NERC deliver and enable world-leading interdisciplinary research in the polar region. Through its extensive logistic capability and know-how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation.

The shipbuilder awarded a coatings contract to Subsea Industries, based on the unrivalled performance of its Ecospeed hull coating system on:
  • The Royal Research Ships Ernest Shackleton 
  • James Clark Ross

Sir David Attenborough required a fully ice-strengthened coating for operations in Antarctica as well as providing effective antifouling between the polar regions, without being harmful to the environment,” said Rob White, Senior Marine Engineer at British Antarctic Survey. “Ecospeed fulfils that requirement.

In six seasons operating RRS Ernest Shackleton with Ecospeed coating, BAS had to touch up Ecospeed only in areas of mechanical damage and carry out minor repairs around the bow, the most susceptible area to ice impact. Following the performance on Ernest Shackleton, the hard coating was applied in 2015 to the hull of sister ship, RRS James Clark Ross. Results were again exemplary.

After two seasons there was only minor hull growth, which was removed with a hull power wash,” said White. “When operating in the Southern Ocean, there is very little biofouling and during the rest of the year any growth that does accumulate is easily dealt with. This ensures a clean efficient hull and reduces the transportation of invasive aquatic species across different regions.”

As a government funded organization, BAS had to find a coating solution for Sir David Attenborough that was
  • Effective 
  • Easy to maintain 

It provides savings across its operating budget. A pre-requisite was an environmentally-sound hull coating that would reduce fuel consumption without detriment to performance in ice.
Application of Ecospeed
Application of Ecospeed on RRS James Clark Ross in 2015

Our docking schedules are alternate years so the coating had to be maintainable in-water as well as in drydock,” White said. “With Ecospeed there are no special docking requirements or specialist equipment, which means that any remedial work can be part of the vessel’s normal refit schedule. The coating’s simple application and maintenance procedures also help drive down the vessel’s through-life costs.”

Coating to Reduce Fuel Consumption


Manuel Hof, Production Executive and NACE Coating Inspector, Subsea Industries, explained: “The coating is proven to reduce fuel consumption so the vessel is not burning as much fuel, thus reducing ship exhaust emissions and Sir David Attenborough’s carbon footprint. It also correlates directly to lower operational costs.

Rob White went on to reveal that other hull coatings had been previously applied to both Ernest Shackleton and James Clark Ross, but these conventional coatings required additional anti-fouling treatments to prevent the build-up of hull growth.

These coatings were expensive and did not last long in ice,” he said. “But since using Ecospeed and following the recommended annual maintenance, the requirement for additional hull treatments has been removed. It also eliminates the pollution of polar waters with heavy metals and hull contamination during research activities, which is extremely important to the scientific work NERC and BAS carry out. The vessel’s presence cannot interfere with the local environment.”

Indeed, the deposit of metallic elements and chemicals in the polar environments is addressed in the recently introduced IMO Polar Code, with Guideline G-23 stating that “no pollutants should be carried directly against the shell in hull areas at significant risk of ice impact”.

Providing Tough Effective Barrier Against Sea and Ice


While this guideline does not specifically legislate against the use of traditional “soft” coatings for polar shipping, Rob White believes a tough, durable and long-lasting coating is required for hull plating integrity. “Ecospeed bonds very well to the bare steel on application and provides a tough effective barrier against the sea and ice,” he said.

From the experience we have gained through using Ecospeed on Ernest Shackleton and James Clark Ross we were adamant that the hull coating for the newbuild should also be Ecospeed. Through-life costs, ease of maintenance and the environmental benefits help reduce operational costs and makes Sir David Attenborough a better research ship for polar science,” said White.

About Subsea Industries

Subsea Cleaning Systems, later Subsea Industries NV, was founded in 1983 specifically to take care of the design, development and marketing of what has become an evolving line of underwater hull and propeller cleaning equipment and later, the line of hard hull coating systems.

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Source: Subsea Industries
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