What has world trade got to do with demand behaviour of marine paints and coatings?
asks Kunal Bose. A lot, since it boils down to at what rates ships for dry bulk and liquid cargoes and containers will be hired. This, in turn, has a decisive bearing on shipping capacity available at a given point and orders for new vessels placed with shipyards in different countries. With daily charter rates for Capesize vessels down from a peak of over $100,00 per day in 2008 to less than $10,000 now, shipping companies hardly able to recover costs, including servicing of mountains of debts have expectedly become highly circumspect in placing new orders for vessels. Two consumption points of marine paints are shipyards and ship repairing dockyards, both getting more and more concentrated in Asia, particularly in China and South Korea.

It’s no music to the ears of marine paints manufacturers that Adam Slater, economist at Oxford Economics is forecasting that world trade will “expand by just 2.6% this year, down from 4% in 2014 and by only around half of its long-term average pace. Indeed, the projected pace of world trade growth looks more akin to that seen in world recessions than periods of recovery.” Slowdown in world trade growth will be largely on account of China, which has started losing its voracious appetite for commodities as its manufacturing imports have started to come off a cliff. In the meantime, a Goldman Sachs report says a sharp deceleration in dry bulk trade in a situation of shipping market oversupplied with vessels will continue to put downward pressure on the dry bulk freight market at least until 2020.

Goldman report says “the size of the fleet [Capesize and Panamax vessels] doubled between 2008 and 2015, and the current order books will ensure that shipping capacity continues to grow until 2017, when vessel retirements will finally outweigh new deliveries.” Such rapid growth in shipping tonnage in turn spelt good times for marine coatings and paints manufacturers. The prospect marine paints manufacturers dread the most is fall in order for new ships. Their margins sufficiently squeezed, ship owners are also prone to postponing vessel repairing and maintenance work without of course breaching safety regulations. And all this is what exactly is happening. Despite the travails of shipbuilding enterprises in all continents and mounting pressure on them to offer discounts in order to secure new vessel orders, a new research report says the global marine coatings market at $7.65bn in 2013 will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5 between 2014 and 2020 to reach $11.88bn.

The report ‘Marine Coatings Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth,Trends and Forecast, 2014-2020’ is authored by the US headquartered Transparency Market Research. Reacting to the 2020 market size forecast, an Indian official of a multinational paints company says the report authors seem not to have factored in the shipping industry caught in a rough weather, which is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Where, however, the report is absolutely on target is its saying the phenomenon of “Asia Pacific dominating marine coatings and paints demand over the past many years in line with migration of shipbuilding capacity from the West to the East is to continue till the decade end.” 

Since a tiny section of the world population will ever indulge in extreme luxuries irrespective of how well or badly the economy fares, leisure boats or yachts tending to be bigger and bigger in size are “projected to be one of the fastest growing applications for marine coatings and paints during the forecast period,” says the report. Ships plying coastal routes have remained the largest application segment for coatings and paints over the past few years. Coastal shipping found to be cost effective in an environment friendly way by many countries with long coastline like India is seeing steady expansion. India has a coastline of 7,517km.

The report observes that rapid growth of shipbuilding and repairing dockyards in some Far Eastern countries and more recently in south-
east Asia too, is the key factor for “growth of marine coatings industry in Asia Pacific.” Based on ships gross tonnage completion in 2014, China (22.682mt [million tonnes]) topped the list followed by South Korea (22.455mt), Japan (13.421mt), the Philippines (18.78mt) and Taiwan (600,000 tonnes). Germany comes next with completed tonnage of 519,000. A fall in new ship orders in the last few years impacted sales of marine coatings and paints. But this was compensated to some extent by growth in offshore sales. This became possible as major shipyards in South Korea and China instead of idling capacity and manpower started focussing on offshore structure construction like drill ships, jack- up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, and floating production, storage and offloading units and offshore platforms.

Economic logic and logistics considerations demand that marine coatings and paints should be made in countries hosting large shipyards. All this besides, as the Norwegian multinational paints manufacturer Jotun realized quite early that making a breakthrough in a market like South Korea is difficult unless it has a tie-up with a local paints group and even better a manufacturing base in the host country. In the beginning in the late 1970s, Jotun managed to get some orders from South Korean shipyards because of recommendations from European customers. But once Jotun joined hands with Chokwang Paint, Korean business started making rapid progress resulting in acquisition of a local paints manufacturing unit followed by commissioning of a factory with capacity of 40m litres in 2009. A leading manufacturer with many technology breakthroughs in marine paints, Jotun has “60 companies in 39 countries to serve a wide range of customers wherever they are.”

Every other major paint manufacturer based in Europe, the US and Japan has followed an identical route of securing ‘local presence’ in Asian countries. Announcements of adding capacity to existing plants and building of new factories in various Asian centres are made by the likes of AkzoNobel of the Netherlands and Nippon Paint Marine Coatings of Japan at regular intervals. AkzoNobel will be creating a new manufacturing facility with initial capacity of 45,000 tonnes in Thailand’s Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate to “support regional growth of its performance coating business.” The plant will be ready for 

commissioning in the third quarter of 2016. Similarly, the company is expanding its manufacturing footprint in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. For most paints MNCs, business in Asia has experienced double digit growth in last five years. “In future too when the world leaves behind economic uncertainties a legacy of crippling global recession of 2008 and order books of shipyards become fuller, the Asia Pacific region will deliver the most in terms of demand growth of marine coatings and paints,” says the official.

The die has been cast as to how industry leaders will manage their business in future. While research and development work focussing on making marine paints more and more environment friendly and also allowing ships to move faster at lower fuel consumption will be done at centres in Europe, the US and Japan, MNCs remain committed to expanding production base in places where shipbuilding and repairing operations are concentrated. During his recent visit to Japan and South Korea, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said he wanted shipbuilding to become an important strand of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. Similarly,Vietnam remains committed to expanding its shipbuilding industry. No wonder, both India and Vietnam figure prominently in market development strategies of paints leaders.

R&D came in the forefront in the 1990s and has since continued to claim higher and higher industry budget in response to significant expansion of legislative activities covering ban in use of tributyltin (TBT) anti-fouling paint, prevention of air pollution and vessel energy efficiency (here paints have a role to play) and growing vigilance by NGOs. Now in a highly competitive environment, paints groups are offering varieties of tin-free anti-fouling paints which not only give protection to underwater hull but also protects marine environment. How companies are responding to competition will become clear from Jotun launching “a unique hull performance solution (HPS), which combines premium anti-fouling backed by technical service and reliable tools to measure hull performance over time with money back guarantee to ship owners and operators in case performance does not match with what is promised.” 

Gaining cost efficiency and compliance through eco efficiency technology  

Despite the recent drop in bunker prices it is still vital for dry bulk ship owners and operators to seize all opportunities to introduce measures that unlock heightened levels of operational and environmental efficiency. A combination of environmental legislation and significant over-capacity driven by a continued decline in coal and iron ore trade in China means maximizing profitability through energy efficiency is now board level priority. Put simply by the president of one US-listed bulker firm: “Environmental benefits are good for everyone. But fuel savings are good for the companies and shareholders.”

This statement rings true across all shipping markets where eco efficient vessels are becoming more marketable on the back of reduced bunker bills and emissions output, increasing their competitiveness in the eyes of the charterers. However for the dry bulk sector this combination of savings could be fundamental to the market’s survival; with some analysts predicting that freight rates will not reach breakeven levels until 2017. Therefore ship owners who are unable to implement strategies that drive greater efficiency, risk not only a dip in profitability but also business continuity in worse-case scenarios.

These far-reaching consequences mean the dry bulk sector is united with other areas of the shipping market that are turning to eco efficiency technologies to drive greater operational and environmental efficiency. And the inherent need for all vessels to be protected is one of the key reasons many ship owners and operators prioritize hull coatings as their clean technology of choice. Indeed many industry leaders are choosing advanced  biocide-free foul release coatings such as Intersleek1100SR®, the latest product in the Intersleek® range offered by AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings brand, International®.

Intersleek® technology has been proven to increase a vessel’s efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions and associated fuel costs by an average of 9%. Intersleek1100SR® is the coatings industry’s first biocide free, fluoropolymer technology that tackles the market’s age-old “slime challenge”. Slime is a complex, varied and dynamic organism that begins to colonize surfaces as soon as they enter the water, and has been proven to have an adverse effect on the efficiency of all vessel types. Indeed, every year it can cost the shipping industry 44 million extra tonnes of bunker fuel and an extra 134 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. In addition to Intersleek1100SR®’s slime busting capabilities, from a wider environmental perspective the coating has higher volume  solids and lower applied film thicknesses than other fouling control systems. This typically results in a 40% reduction in paint volume and 60% reduction in VOC emissions for first time application.At future dockings it can reduce paint usage by around 75%,VOC emissions by over 80% and waste packaging by over 60%.

The benefits of Intersleek®1100SR in reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions can also create additional bottom line benefits for dry bulk ship owners and operators who enrol their vessels into International®’s carbon credits scheme. This is the first methodology of its kind developed for the shipping industry in conjunction with The Gold Standard Foundation, which enables users to reap additional financial benefits on top of the operational, environmental and energy efficiencies achieved using Intersleek® by claiming carbon credits based on the CO2 savings that are generated. Based on the 100 eligible ships already converted from a biocidal antifouling to Intersleek®, there is an estimated total of $2.8m worth of carbon credits potentially available to ship owners and operators. The first carbon credits claims, worth a combined total of almost $500,000, will be imminently awarded to two ship owners that enrolled 17 vessels into the programme.

While hull coatings are the most widely used eco efficiency technology in the shipping industry there are still barriers that are preventing the widespread uptake of clean technologies in general. One of the core challenges to be addressed is the understandable requirement from ship owners and operators to see a tangible rate of return on investment prior to the installation of hull coatings or indeed any other eco efficiency technology.

International® recognizes this and is working to address the issue through its latest research into a new methodology that assesses the impact of hull roughness on a vessel’s efficiency both at dry dock and after a coating application, as well as during the subsequent dry docking cycle. The research builds on the landmark work of Dr Bob Townsin, the first researcher and academic to establish the important link between hull roughness and ship powering in the 1980s. While Townsin’s methodology is upheld by the shipping industry today, trends in hull coatings, ship yard practices, environmental changes and regulations, as well as vessel design and operation have altered considerably over the past 30 years. Consequently, International® aims through its research to develop an updated model that accurately reflects the changing dynamics of the shipping industry.

In the wake of depressed freight rates and an uncertain future largely dependent on dwindling coal and iron ore trade in China, the dry bulk sector is rightly targeting more efficient operations in order to maintain healthy profit margins. By converting vessels from a biocidal antifouling to International®’s Intersleek® range, dry bulk ship owners and operators can fulfill the inherent requirement to coat their vessels while benefiting from fuel savings and reduced CO2 emissions that can be converted into carbon credits to boost income further.

However, before adoption of eco efficiency technologies can become widespread, ship owners and operators must first be satisfied that in exchange for their investment, the benefits promised to them by technology providers can be delivered.

This is particularly important in the dry bulk sector that operates within razor thin margins and must spend every dollar wisely. There is still work to be done by technology providers to build the proof and trust that the dry bulk sector rightly demands before investing in eco efficiency technologies. Developments such as the carbon credits scheme, which financially rewards investment, as well as International®’s average hull roughness methodology offer an important tool through which greater confidence can be fostered, driving further update and supporting the long term sustainability and financial stability of the dry bulk sector.

PPG Protective & Marine Coatings’ SIGMASHIELDTM applied to new hopper dredger  


SIGMASHIELDTM System: Highly resilient protective system for high-impact and abrasive cargo operations works for Boskalis

Baggermaatschappij Boskalis B.V. (Boskalis) is a leading global maritime services company operating in the dredging, offshore energy and inland infrastructure sectors, writes Sijmen Visser, Global Marketing Manager Marine, PPG Protective and Marine Coatings. The organization operates in over 75 countries across six continents, with a versatile fleet of over 1,100 vessels and equipment.

Boskalis is active in the energy, ports and infrastructure markets, with a wide range of clients including oil companies, port operators, governments, shipping companies, international project developers, insurance companies, and mining companies.


The Causeway, the company’s new hopper dredger handles large amounts of highly abrasive, heavy materials. The challenge was to find a coating that would withstand the persistent abrasion to the steel surfaces due to the constant loading and discharging of sand and stones.


Following two years of extensive testing, PPG Protective & Marine Coatings (PPG) worked with Boskalis to provide the SIGMASHIELD System.

PPG applied a system comprising the SIGMASHIELD 1090 product as an under layer with the SIGMASHIELD 1200 coating as a finish layer on top to the Causeway at the Shipyard Boer, Sliedrecht,The Netherlands.

The SIGMASHIELD 1090 product is a two-component, solvent-free polyamine-cured epoxy compound. After blasting the total area, one layer of SIGMASHIELD 1090 was applied.

Following this, to obtain a very smooth surface, the SIGMASHIELD 1200 coating was applied on top of the SIGMASHIELD 1090 product. The SIGMASHIELD 1200 product is a two-component, abrasion-resistant, solvent-free, phenolic epoxy coating that gives the system additional abrasion- and impact resistance. As a result of its smooth finished surface, the sand and mud will discharge faster and therefore less cargo will remain in the hopper.


The combination of the SIGMASHIELD 1090 and SIGMASHIELD 1200 coatings produces a hard-wearing, smooth surface ideally suited to areas that are subject to heavy impact and abrasion from a variety of damaging cargoes.

The key benefit for the owner on this vessel is that abrasion of the steel will be reduced and the steel thickness will therefore remain intact for a prolonged period, which is a significant financial benefit as steel renewal is a costly investment for the owner.



  • excellent resistance to heavy impact and abrasion;
  • smooth surface reduces damage from cargo handling;
  • solvent-free technology – no VOC emissions;
  • reduced explosion risk and fire hazard;
  • can be applied by heavy duty, single-feed airless equipment; v suitable for new-build, and maintenance and repair



  • exceptional protection against heavy impact and abrasion; v seamless, water-impermeable layer with excellent
  • anticorrosive properties;
  • can be exposed to water after 30 minutes;
  • excellent adhesion under wet- or dry exposure;
  • solvent-free technology – no VOC emissions; and
  • suitable for decks exposed to heavy impact and abrasion.



Outstanding protection of the steel due to the excellent resistance against abrasion and impact.

Following the success of the project, Boskalis awarded PPG the task of applying the same coating system for the Strandway, a further hopper dredger.

PPG will monitor this vessel with the owner to record and quantify the long-term benefits and cost reduction resulting from the application of the SIGMASHIELD products.


PPG Industries’ vision is to be the world’s leading coatings company by consistently delivering high-quality, innovative and sustainable solutions that customers trust to protect and beautify their products and surroundings. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and colour, PPG provides added value to customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world. Reported net sales in 2014 were $15.4 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bringing innovation to the surface is a trademark of PPG Industries Ohio, Inc. 

News from major coatings manufacturer Hempel


Maintaining its strong position in the market, in March this year the world-wide coatings manufacturer Hempel launched HEMPADUR QUATTRO XO — a high- performance range of pure epoxy PSPC-compliant coatings for marine new- buildings.

Although specifically developed for ballast water tanks in new vessels, the new coating can also be used as a uni-primer for most vessel areas — above and below the waterline — providing high- quality performance and peace of mind for customers.

IMO requires the use of a PSPC certified coating for water ballast tanks and the launch, today, of a new range of pure epoxy coatings represents the latest state-of- the-art in pure epoxy technology which delivers optimized performance based on customer requirements.



  • state of the art high-quality pure epoxy technology;
  • high efficiency for yards due to fast drying and year around applications from –10°C to +40°C; and
  • the option to upgrade with aluminium pigmentation and proprietary fibre reinforcement technology to enhance anti- corrosion properties and long-term durability with reduced maintenance expectations.


Developed specifically with customer requirements in mind, HEMPADUR QUATTRO XO consists of a range of high-quality pure epoxy coatings to suit the different yard working methods and VOC requirements. Longer re-coat intervals are required in Korea and Europe whereas shorter intervals have been adopted in China and the Americas. Similarly, Korea and the US prefer 80% volume solids whilst China mainly works with 60–70%.

For the shipowner, charterer or ship-management company, the high quality and robustness of QUATTRO XO gives peace of mind and reduced maintenance costs.

Speaking at the launch in March, product manager Roger Chen commented:“This new product range has been in development for three years and builds on the wide success of our existing HEMPADUR QUATTRO family of epoxy coatings. Making use of the state-of-the-art pure epoxy technology and providing opportunity to reinforce performance with aluminium 

pigmentation and proprietary micro-fibre reinforcement technology ensures exceptionally high protection at a reasonable price. We have listened carefully to our customers and produced the new XO coating to tie in with their specific requirements.”

In January, anticipating industry changes and responding to customer demands, Hempel announced the launch of two new pure epoxy coatings.

HEMPADUR 15600 – changing the game for newbuild tank coatings
A much-awaited addition to the HEMPADUR range, HEMPADUR 15600 is a ground-breaking IMO PSPC cargo oil tank compliant, pure epoxy tank coating resistant to continuous immersion in a range of chemicals, including crude oil up to 80°C/176°F. It delivers significant benefits not seen before in a single pure epoxy product:

v a two coat system which reduces expensive application times.

v more flexibility and savings to the yards — unlike most tank 

around +10°C/50°F, HEMPADUR 15600 can be applied at

temperatures as low as –5°C/23°F.
v fast drying and recoating time — surface dry after two hours

and re-coatable after only four hours at 20°C/68°F, is substantially faster than current available tank coatings in the market.
In addition, this new pure epoxy coating incorporates high

cross-link density technology on level with a phenolic epoxy coating, which gives added chemical and corrosion resistance and a hard, smooth and glossy surface for easy cleaning.

Global product manager Michael Aamodt says: “IMO requires liquid cargo tanks to be coated with a type approved compliant product and our customers want a coating that delivers greater protection, more flexibility and at a reasonable price. HEMPADUR 15600 is the only product that can deliver that winning combination in a single coating”

HEMPADUR 15600 is also suitable for grey and black water tanks, mud and brine tanks, refrigerated seawater fish tanks and other vessel tanks.

HEMPADUR EASY 47700 – the all-rounder for vessels in dry-dock
HEMPADUR EASY 47700, also launched in January, is a brand new pure epoxy ‘all seasons’ primer designed for the marine maintenance market. It was developed in response to demands for a reliable, user friendly and flexible coating for use in dry- dock under all climate conditions. This new coating can be used on almost all vessel surfaces (above and below the waterline) and delivers:

v high surface tolerance — as this is a repair product, surfaces to be painted might not be in the best of conditions. HEMPADUR EASY 47700 can be applied to a variety of surfaces.

v reliability across the temperature scale — HEMPADUR EASY 47700 can be applied at temperatures as low as –10°C/50°F and up to +40°C/104°F which allows it to be used in most dry docks and at most times of the year. 

coatings that require a minimum ambient temperature of 

Commenting on the new coating,Aamodt says:“The coating requires minimal expensive surface preparation and its fast drying and recoating time means that the vessel spends less time in dock. This saves money for the owner. On top of that, its wide application and all season use both for cold and hot humid climates are why we’ve called it EASY”.

Late last year, HEMPAGUARD®, a ground-breaking hull coating concept from Danish coatings manufacturer Hempel, won Shipping Efficiency’s prestigious Environmental Technology award. Presented in October 2014, the award is an endorsement of a technology that “makes a significant contribution to environmental impact reduction or prevention to ships.”

Judges on the panel included ABS Director of Energy Efficiency, Jan Otto de Kat; and the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping & International Shipping Federation, Peter Hinchliffe.

Hempel’s HEMPAGUARD® was launched in 2013 and has shown an outstanding resistance to fouling during idle periods, significant fuel savings and is providing shipowners with trading flexibility. The coating was over five years in development and was introduced to the shipping industry against a backdrop of rising bunkering costs, tightening environmental regulations and the introduction of mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (SEEMP).

HEMPAGUARD® is based on Hempel’s patented ActiGuard® technology. ActiGuard® integrates silicone-hydrogel and full diffusion control of biocides in a single coating. Surface retention of the biocide activates the hydrogel, which effectively holds fouling organisms at bay, cutting friction to a minimum while utilizing a minimum amount of biocide. It also has the long-term stability and mechanical properties required of a durable solution.

Claes Skat-Rørdam, Fouling Control Manager, says: “We are proud and delighted that HEMPAGUARD® has been recognized by the expert judges on the Shipping Efficiency Award panel as an environmental leader. HEMPAGUARD® is a completely new technology that combines the best of both worlds: the smooth, fuel-efficient surface from silicone coatings and the durable protection against fouling known from antifoulings.”

He added:“However, what is most remarkable about HEMPAGUARD® is that it releases 95% less biocide than traditional antifoulings and yet, it still has a significantly better performance. HEMPAGUARD® enables our customers to improve their efficiency at sea, while reducing the impact on the environment. Apart from the fuel efficiency benefits of using HEMPAGUARD, it also allows operators up to 120 days idle.”

Award organizer Fathom’s Director of Strategy, Catherine Austin said:“We are absolutely delighted with the response the Ship Efficiency Awards has received from the maritime community, who have enthusiastically taken it on board — this is proven through the breadth and depth of nominations we received from the world over. It’s truly fantastic to be a part of it.”

HEMPAGUARD® shows excellent fouling resistance for up to 120 days during idle periods and fuel savings of 6% on average over a full docking interval.

Hempel offers a performance satisfaction guarantee contract for vessels complying with a full HEMPAGUARD® X7 specification (one of the two products in the HEMPAGUARD® series).

HEMPAGUARD® is also extremely flexible, covering all combinations of sailing routes and trading patterns. Unlike regular hull coatings that, in general, are specified according to the vessel’s speed and activity level, HEMPAGUARD® retains its effectiveness when switching between slow and fast steaming.


HEMPAGUARD® releases 95% less biocide than a standard SPC (self-polishing co-polymer antifouling). Moreover, the biocide is retained on the surface, thus eliminating the need for polishing, as well as requiring only one coat compared to the two or three that are normally necessary for antifouling. The surface has the same smoothness as conventional biocide-free silicone-based fouling release coatings. Trials at sea and idle period tests over five years have demonstrated very high level of fouling prevention compared to standard SPC antifouling products.

HEMPAGUARD® is available in two formulations for docking intervals of 36 and 90 months and is recommended for all ship types whose owners wish to benefit from flexible trading, fuel savings and fouling defence at any speed or during idle periods.

Hempel continues to develop new products based on the ActiGuard® technology.

HEMPAGUARD® X5 offers sustained fouling defence for up to 36 months for any type of vessel with any trading pattern as well as for extended idle time.


  • efficient fouling prevention during the entire service interval; v based on Hempel’s patented ActiGuard® low-friction fusion technology;
  • combines the best from the hydrogel silicone and biocidal antifoulings;
  • documented performance and a long track record; and 
  • guaranteed fouling resistance for up to 60 idle days.


HEMPAGUARD® X7 offers up to 90 months of extremely efficient fouling defence for any type of vessel with any trading pattern as well as for extended idle time.

  • efficient fouling prevention during the entire service interval;
  • based on Hempel’s patented ActiGuard® low-friction fusion technology;
  • combines the best from the hydrogel silicone and biocidal antifoulings;
  • documented performance and a long track record; and v guaranteed fouling resistance for up to 120 idle days.



Hempel is a renowned coatings supplier for the decorative, protective, marine, container and yacht markets. From wind turbines and bridges to hospitals, ships, power stations and homes, Hempel’s coatings protect man-made structures from the corrosive forces of nature. Hempel owns, among other companies, Crown Paints. With a focus on R&D, advanced production techniques and professional coatings advice, Hempel works around the globe to help keep its customers’ investments safe and attractive for a long time. 

Damen Shipyards Group pilot: Thorn-D® outperforms traditional antifouling  

Thorn-D® antifouling outperforms conventional antifouling coatings and is environmentally friendly. A pilot project which started one-and-a-half years ago, has proven that this new thin film coating performs better than traditional antifoulings. A real ecological and cost-efficient breakthrough for shipping companies and shipyards.

Dutch innovation and award-winning company, Micanti, in co-operation with Damen Shipyards, launched a pilot project in the Port of Amsterdam in February 2013.

Two virtually identical sister ships were treated with two different coatings. The Castor, a Damen Stan Tug 1907, was treated with a well-known conventional antifouling coating. The Pollux, also a Stan Tug 1907, was treated with the new foil, Thorn-D®. Both vessels operated at low speed in the Port of Amsterdam, under the same conditions and in the same waters.  


“When I met Micanti’s staff for the first time, I was sceptical about using fibres to prevent marine growth. And due to Thorn-D®’s textured surface as opposed to a smooth conventional coating, I expected an increase in drag and fuel consumption,” remarks Willem Spoelstra, Manager Environment and Safety Nautical Department of the Port of Amsterdam. “But surprisingly enough, that was not the case. Thorn-D® lives up to its promise — it prevents marine growth without increasing drag.”

Conventional antifouling coatings need movement to keep marine growth from adhering to the vessel. Thorn-D®, a fibre which acts as a physical barrier, does not require movement, and even works when a ship is moored. “We have measured the speed against its sister vessel Castor (built at Damen at the same time) on delivery. We have seen no differences at all. At present, fuel consumption is still at the level as it was at delivery. On top of this,Thorn-D® is 100% environmentally friendly, essential in reaching sustainability targets,” says Spoelstra.

Regular antifouling coatings fail earlier. The conventional coating is no longer effective once most or all of the toxins have leached into the water. Dr Rik Breur, founder of Micanti, explains:“SinceThorn-D® actsasaphysical barrier against marine growth, it has a longer expected lifetime (guaranteed five years) than traditional antifouling coatings that already start degrading after six months.’’

More foul leads to an increase in drag and higher fuel consumption. The drag on Thorn-D has been tested at (Dutch) research institutes (TNO, Delft University of Technology and  MARIN) as well as in practice on operating vessels. The general conclusion is that Thorn-D® fibres do not increase drag due to a change in the hydrodynamic flow structure.

“Not only have our pilot project and research results proven Thorn-D®’s outstanding performance, our clients from the Middle East, for example, are also positive about our new product,” adds Rik. “And these clients are constantly battling marine growth.”


Dutch innovation and award-winning company, Micanti, founded in 2006, develops products for effective non-toxic fouling defence technology. Micanti strives to be the market leader for non-toxic antifouling through a patented technology by applying fibre thorns as a fouling repellent.

For years, the patented product Thorn-D has been tested and continuously improved in various environments.


Port of Amsterdam manages, operates and develops the port. It ensures a safe, swift and environmentally responsible management of shipping traffic within its working area. The exploitation is aimed at port sites (rental and leasing), quays and water. In the entire Amsterdam port region a yearly amount of over 94 million tons of goods are being transshipped.


Damen Shipyards Group operates 32 ship- and repair yards, employing 9,000 people worldwide. Damen has delivered more than 5,000 vessels in more than 100 countries and delivers approximately 160 vessels annually to customers worldwide. Based on its unique, standardized ship design concept Damen is able to guarantee consistent quality.

Damen’s focus on standardization, modular construction and keeping vessels in stock leads to short delivery times, low ‘total cost of ownership’, high resale value and reliable performance. Furthermore, Damen vessels are based on thorough R&D and proven technology.

Damen offers a wide range of products, including: tugs, workboats, naval and patrol vessels, high-speed craft, cargo vessels, dredgers, vessels for the offshore industry, ferries, pontoons and super yachts.

For nearly all vessel types Damen offers a broad range of services, such as maintenance, spare parts delivery, training and transfer of (shipbuilding) know-how. Finally, Damen offers a variety of marine components, especially nozzles, (flap-type) rudders, steering gear, anchors, anchor chains and steel works.


In addition to ship design and shipbuilding, Damen Shiprepair & Conversion offers a network of 16 repair and conversion yards worldwide, with dry docks ranging up to 420 x 80 metres. Conversion projects range from adapting vessels to meet today’s requirements and regulations to the complete conversion of large offshore structures. DS&C handles 1,500 repair and maintenance jobs annually.