Ice-going research ship gets Ecospeed hull protection

(CLEARWATER, Fla.) — One year after the bow area was coated with Ecospeed, the rest of the underwater hull of Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Clark Ross was given the same treatment in Frederikshavn, Denmark. The ship is one of two ice-strengthened research vessels operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

The other, RRS Ernest Shackleton, has been sailing with Ecospeed on its hull for six years without requiring repainting. Despite battering its way through ice up to 2.5 meters thick with a high content of gravel and volcanic lava adding to its abrasiveness, the hull coating remains virtually intact and undamaged. This is in strong contrast to when the Shackleton’s hull was still covered with a conventional ice-going underwater hull coating and almost the entire hull was practically stripped to bare, unprotected steel in between dockings.

This result led BAS to coat the bow area of RRS James Clark Ross with Ecospeed last year. Coating the entire hull was not an option during the docking in 2014. The owners, however, wanted to start protecting their vessel as soon as possible. RRS James Clark Ross can steam at a steady 2 knots through level sea ice 1 meter thick. The bow area has to endure a constant impact with the ice and needs the best possible protection. For this reason they decided to have Ecospeed applied on those areas of the hull first. In August of this year the rest of the hull was coated. During this yearly scheduled docking of the vessel the bow area was shown to still be in excellent condition despite the impact with thick ice during its expeditions.

Ecospeed low-friction coating demonstrates excellent attachment to the hull and successful resistance to extremely icy conditions. The coating has proven an ability to withstand the harshest winter conditions on numerous occasions, as BAS has experienced firsthand.

Ecospeed has received the Lloyd’s Register certificate that recognizes the coating as an abrasion resistant ice coating. This allows owners of vessels intending to navigate in ice conditions to reduce the scantlings of the ice belt, the area on the bow just above the waterline that is most prone to mechanical damage from sailing through ice, if this area is coated with Ecospeed.

Researching the Antarctic continent

RRS James Clark Ross has some of Britain's most advanced facilities for oceanographic research on board and is the platform for most of the marine science undertaken. Each year it leaves the U.K. for the Antarctic laden with supplies for British Antarctic and sub-Antarctic bases. It stays in the Southern Ocean for the austral summer carrying out oceanographic and biological survey work in between supplying and re-supplying the bases and moving personnel around. Before the start of the Antarctic winter, it heads back to the U.K. again returning equipment, garbage to be disposed of and returning Antarctic base members. They have been away from the U.K. for periods ranging from just a few months to nearly two and a half years.

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By Professional Mariner Staff