Inspecting the hull coating.
Marine paints and coatings are specifically formulated to protect and strengthen a dry bulk vessel’s hull, cargo holds, and hatch covers against damage — protecting the ship from the inside out, writes Davide Ippolito, Group Product Manager, Marine Newbuilding, Hempel A/S. Externally applying an antifouling coating solution to the hull of a ship is not a new concept but coatings technology has advanced greatly, particularly in recent years. High-performance hull coatings now deliver enhanced protection against fouling, and they optimize efficiency by lowering the maximum speed loss thereby saving fuel and minimizing a shipowner’s environ­mental footprint; they also improve trading flexibility.
Internally, cargo holds are constantly put to the test and are subjected to extremely harsh treatment. Cargoes range from metal ores, coal, cement, tin, steel, grains, coffee and sugar — to name a few — and the loading and unloading of these cargoes cause abrasion, impact and mechanical damage. Certain cargoes expose holds to high temperatures and harsh chemicals which can also damage and weaken the steel.
Many dry bulk cargoes are classified as ‘dangerous goods’, so it comes as no surprise that there are important codes and cargo transport guidelines that shipowners and operators strictly adhere to in order to move cargo safely from port to port. Different classes of solid bulk cargoes have their own individual handling criteria and P&I Clubs publish guidelines on preparing cargo holds for their loading and safe transportation. Keeping abreast of these regulations is vital in ensuring the safety of a vessel and protecting the cargo both from incidental or environmental damage.
It’s what’s inside that counts
Protecting a vessel from harm for the long term is in everyone’s best interest. The right cargo hold coating enhances operational efficiency from the outset. By investing in the right tool, such as Hempel’s Hempadur Ultra-Strength Fibre 47510 cargo hold coating, shipowners can benefit from faster turnaround times in ports as the holds are easier to clean. They are protected against damage and corrosion, and out-of-service time is minimized — up to 40% reduction in maintenance costs compared with standard epoxy coatings, which have traditionally been applied to dry bulk cargo holds.
Hempadur Ultra-Strength Fibre 47510 incorporates a unique combination of superior mechanical resistance with a fibre and self-toughening technology that delivers the most robust and reliable cargo protection for cargo holds currently available.
Importantly, the heavy-duty nature of the coating provides superior resistance to abrasion, impact, cracking and chemical attack, combined with an easy-to-clean smooth surface to avoid contamination between cargoes.
Hempel’s hold coatings can be applied with various degrees of surface preparation, making it easier for applicators to apply and greatly minimizing repair costs. Fast curing times of just three days before carrying the first hard cargo and a ten-year maintenance major repair interval offer fast return to service and reduced repaired costs during the coating service life.
A protective exoskeleton
Trading flexibility is crucial for dry bulk shipowners as the shipping industry continues to face challenging times. Using the same patented microfibre technology as the Hempadur Ultra Strength Fibre, Hempel recently launched a new powerful antifouling coating Atlantic+. Designed to protect the hull from fouling throughout service intervals of up to 60 months, Atlantic+ is suitable for all water temperatures ensuring complete operational efficiency.
The science behind the microfibre technology involves introducing an internal skeleton of fibres into the paint to enhance its mechanical strength — in the same way that steel rods can be inserted into concrete to reinforce a physical structure. Strengthening the antifouling coating in this way means ensuring protection from fouling on areas exposed to impact and abrasion; improving ‘overcoatability’; reducing the areas to blast; and ultimately decreasing the costs for the ship’s dry docking.
Applying the right coatings to the external and internal structures of a vessel is vital to maximising operational efficiency. By putting your best foot forward and investing for the long term, shipowners and operators can generate more sustainable operations, minimize downtime and maximize savings. The market is not out of the doldrums yet and will continue to face challenges but by looking at the big picture — and selecting the optimum coating solution — shipowners can make creditable gains.