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Thursday, 09 February 2017 12:31

Birkenhead shipbuilders opt for eco hull coating on RRS Sir David Attenborough

Subsea Industries' Ecospeed hull protection system has been selected because of its environmental credentials in tough icy conditions for RRS Sir David Attenborough, the polar research ship under construction at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Merseyside, NW England.

Ecospeed 1 copyThe shipbuilder awarded a coatings contract to Subsea Industries, a pioneer in non-toxic hard-coatings, based on the performance of its Ecospeed hull coating system on the Royal Research Ships Ernest Shackleton and 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."

The £150million contract to build the vessel, which Cammell Laid won against stiff international competition in 2015, represents the biggest commercial shipbuilding contract in Britain for 30 years. The ship has been commissioned by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) and will be operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

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 sistership, RRS James Clark Ross. Results were again exemplary.

Ecoshield rudder copy"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 organisation, BAS had to find a coating solution for Sir David Attenborough that was effective, easy to maintain and could provide 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.

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.

ecospeed rrs attenborough copy"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".

Subsea Industries Chairman Boud Van Rompay said: "We are delighted that Cammell Laird, BAS and NERC have once again selected Ecospeed for a new polar research vessel. The hard coating completely mitigates against the leaching of chemicals into the marine environment and this, along with other 'green' technologies will make Sir David Attenborough one of the most environmentally-safe ships afloat."

The 15,000gt research vessel, scheduled for operational duties in 2019, will be one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world. Two nine-cylinder and two six-cylinder Bergen B33:45 engines in diesel electric configuration will provide power to propulsion motors driving 4.5m diameter controllable pitch propellers. The 128m long vessel will be capable of 60 days at sea without re-supply, covering a range of 18,898 nautical miles at 13 knots.

LINKS
Subsea Industries
RRS Sir David Attenborough
Cammell Laird shipyard