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Choosing the best hull coating for ice-going ships and icebreakers

Choosing the best hull coating  for ice-going ships and icebreakers

The number one consideration in a hull coating for ice-going vessels and icebreakers is the ability of the coating to protect the hull in the harshest marine environment there is. Only a few types of coatings are capable of providing this protection. Typically they are certified for their ice-abrasion resistance qualities by the classification societies. This status also means that use of these coatings permits a reduction in the otherwise required thickness of the ship’s scantlings. This saves money in terms of requiring less steel to build the hull and reducing the overall weight of the ship.

Antifouling and foul-release coatings are not suitable for ice-going ships. They do not provide adequate protection for the hull and the impact and abrasion of the ice soon damages or removes them.

Ecospeed has been recognized by Lloyd’s Register as an abrasion resistant ice coating for ships intending to navigate in ice conditions. Its correct use on the ice belt specifically permits a reduction of the ice belt’s steel plating by up to 1mm.

Experience has shown that Ecospeed stays on the hull longer and resists the ice far better than the most generally used specialized ice coatings. The glassflake reinforced coating uses a different resin than other specialized ice coatings which means that it remains bonded to the ship’s plates even as they flex and bend under ice pressure and impact.

The coating is extremely tough and resilient. It stays on the ship much longer than other ice coatings and holds up much better, providing smooth protection for the hull for years.

A ship with a well-protected hull over its service life will be worth more when the time comes to sell it than one which has a corroded, eroded hull. This comes down to how well it has been protected. This, in turn, depends on the coating system and maintenance methods used.

Ecospeed will last the life of the ship without the need for any major repair or full replacement of the coating.

An ice-going hull coating must have low friction characteristics in order to be fuel efficient. But it is not enough for the hull to be smooth and have low friction at launch. It must stay that way for the life of the vessel. Most hull coatings, including specialized ice coatings, become rougher and rougher over time due to damage, disbonding and spot repairs. This will reduce fuel efficiency more and more as time goes on.

Ecospeed will hold up and will not be damaged in the ice and so will remain smooth for the life of the vessel, thus saving fuel. Even if minor repairs are needed in drydock, they blend in perfectly, leaving the hull smooth and fuel efficient.

Some specialized ice-class paints are quite effective but are difficult to apply, with demanding environmental conditions, specialized application equipment and skills not necessarily available or possible at all shipyards. A true ice-class coating that can be applied as easily as a regular coating is rare. This can be an important point in deciding which coating to apply to a ship.

Applying Ecospeed is a simple process which can be carried out using usual spray equipment without tenting and heating. Minimum overcoat time is only a few hours and there is no maximum, making it easy to fit into your drydock or new build schedule. Only two coats required, each of 500µm. Preparation requires grit blasting to 75µm profile and Sa 2.5. Application requirements consist of a normal, single-head spray gun, humidity not above 85%, temperature 0° -  60° C. Minimum overcoat time of 3 hours (at 20° C), no maximum. Immersion time 24 hours after.

 A specially formulated version of Ecospeed known as Ecoshield® is used for protecting rudders and other running gear from cavitation and corrosion damage. Ecoshield is equally effective in ice as in water.

Applied once, Ecoshield provides lifelong protection for the rudder, stabilizer fins, thruster tunnels and other parts of the underwater ship particularly prone to cavitation and corrosion. Ecoshield is fully compatible with Ecospeed. It can be applied at the same time in the same way. It can also be applied under or over Ecospeed.