MERC/ACT Workshop on Protocols to Evaluate Vessel In-Water Hull Cleaning and Grooming Systems, Hawaii, 23-24 April 2019

13 June 2019

With in-water hull capture, cleaning and grooming systems already operating in some international locations and more developments biting at their heels, it has never been more important to establish a test procedure to evaluate the claims made for these “Next Generation” capture systems.

Many ports authorities ‘closed their doors’ to open-circuit in-water cleaning due to the potential for sediment and biological contamination. The release of heavy-metal biocides and the introduction of non-native species during a clean could have a negative impact on the environmental status of ports, potentially leading to e.g. a loss of dredging licenses. However, more and more port authorities and shipping companies are investigating the benefits that closed-circuit capture systems have to offer, including the opportunities to provide valuable ship services whilst also maintaining the marine chemical and biological health of the port.

To establish an understanding and increase confidence in the effectiveness of the closed-circuit systems, some form of rigorous evaluation is crucial. Both port authorities and device developers are requesting such evaluation, the latter eager to demonstrate system capabilities with robust independent evidence to offer to potential customers.

PML Applications’ in-water hull cleaning and environmental specialist, Anna Yunnie, took part in the recent Alliance for Coastal Technologies and Marine Environmental Resource Center (ACT-MERC collective) workshop organised to produce such a protocol for evaluating both cleaning and grooming systems. To ensure a truly comprehensive and robust testing protocol the initiative brought together 22 international experts with backgrounds in research, government legislation and regulations, international shipping, and the testing of actual in-water cleaning/grooming systems.

While this newly developed protocol will not be a means to gaining a certificate or type approval, a full analysis and disclosure of system capture, containment and filtration (when applicable) performance will be given. This can be used to compare other systems that have also undergone this testing, providing like-for-like reports that many technology developers and ports alike have been asking for.

One particular issue that did come to light during the workshop was the difficulty in securing vessels to test. With tight schedules that often change at the last minute this could be a limiting factor. Perhaps purpose built test facilities are the future…? Let us know what you think.