ECOsubsea, the Norwegian firm offering a hull cleaning technology, has received approval from the Ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge thanks to the technology’s ability to remove all hull fouling from the water.

Following around 500 vessel cleanings in Southampton and Norway to demonstrate that the hull cleaning system meets the latest strict clean water environmental regulations, the ports approved the technology.

While traditional hull cleaning requires divers, which increase risk to human life, and brushes, which can damage a ship’s coating, the ECOsubsea technology uses a remotely operated vehicle that gently cleans the ship’s hull moving across the surface like a big lawn mower.

The technology removes 97% of fouling and pumps it ashore through a filtration process plant where it is stored in collection bags and later used in biogas production.

Tor and Klaus Østervold, founders of the Norwegian company said that operators including Carnival, WWL Ocean and Hoegh Autoliners have repeatedly used the ECOsubsea system over the last few years.

“Our operation in Antwerp and Zeebrugge represents a significant milestone for ECOsubsea. Both Antwerp and Zeebrugge have been frontrunners within environmental regulations, and for us it has been important to provide a solution fully complying with the strictest standards. In addition, Antwerp and Zeebrugge are large ports serving many of our existing customers, but also many potential new customers,” stated Tor Østervold.

“We believe we have leading technology, both in terms of our environmental footprint, and in terms of how fast we clean a hull and how gentle the coating is treated. This gives us a strong technological platform for further growth. The most important thing we advise operators to do is firstly to inspect the hull at least two times per year so that they can determine the biofouling condition and monitor this over time.”

Port authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about the risks posed by shipping and what a vessel can and cannot discharge into local waters.

Increasingly, ports are taking a zero-tolerance approach, making it harder for owners to find an opportunity to ensure their vessels have clean hulls that help reduce fuel bills and CO2 emissions.

Luc Van Espen from the Port of Antwerp, said: “We are happy to welcome companies such as ECOsubsea, that have the technology available to clean ship’s hulls in a sustainable way. This not only preserves our dock waters from being polluted by alien species and heavy metals, but also offers a new service to our shipping lines, in a way that even sometimes ships deviate towards Antwerp in order to be cleaned, bunkered and repaired at the same time.”

Joachim Coens, CEO Port of Zeebrugge, explained: “As a port authority with a Clean Port strategy, we applaud companies like ECOsubsea for offering an environmentally friendly ROV hull cleaning service in our port to our clients. Every measure or innovation in the shipping industry that reduces the CO² footprint of vessels will result in a more sustainable industry globally.”