Text:Kongsberg Maritime Marketing & Communication Department
Q: What is KONGSBERGs role in the development and delivery of Jotun HullSkater?
We have leveraged 70 years of expertise in underwater technology and the experience gained from the development of market leading underwater vehicles with advanced manoeuvring and navigation systems such as HUGIN, HUGIN Superior and Eelume. Through this we enable and are responsible for the robotics industrialisation and manufacturing, as well as global service and support of the HullSkater in operation. We have provided technology and know-how including development of the internal navigation and remote operation system, battery technology, ultrasonic sensors and composite materials.
Additionally, HullSkater used KONGSBERG communication and data infrastructure for remote control and operational purposes whilst our vessel performance monitoring systems play a vital role by enabling HullSkater to perform proactive hull cleaning rather than the usual reactive operations. We’re also providing a high-end technical support service through our world class global network covering all continents across 34 countries. Our global reach ensures local presence – wherever the customers are.
Q: Why is this project important to KONGSBERG?
It’s exciting to have two global industry leaders joining forces to develop technology for sustainable oceans. When Jotun needed a "reliable technology partner", a partner with experience and knowledge about maritime robotics, underwater sensors, remote operations and a global maritime service network, it was natural for them to look to Kongsberg Maritime, and of course we were keen to be part of such a ground-breaking project.
HullSkater touches our core technology areas and is perfectly in line with our green shipping strategy, where the majority of solutions from our Full Picture portfolio are designed to provide best-in-class operational and efficiency gains. The technology we developed and integrated for HullSkater is state-of-the-art. It really is a game-changer and will lead to significantly more energy efficient operations and as a result, reduced CO2 emissions.
The environmental benefits are great. To give an example: If 25% of ships working in the challenging operations category convert to using Hullskater by 2030, the result would be a CO2 emissions reduction of at least 10 million tons per year, which is equal to around a quarter of Norway’s total CO2 emissions in 2018.
Q. What have the key challenges been during the development of HullSkater?
We have already found solutions to resolve issues with stability, the quality of the 4G network, reduced visibility – often as little as two or three metres – and navigating on a flat hull bottom. HullSkater is functioning well, efficiently and safely, and we will continue to develop the product in the future. If customers do encounter any issues, we have resources close by that will react and provide support immediately if needed.
Q. Can HullSkater technology help address the global biofouling issue?
We believe there is a significant market potential for a product like this. Jotun have departed from the usual approach of coatings manufacturers by not only focusing on the chemistry of the paint, but also on complementary means to maintain consistently clean hulls. Unlike competing solutions, this emphasis on proactive cleaning – which can be activated to combat fouling before it becomes established – represents a real change in the industry and fits perfectly with KONGSBERG’s ambition and commitment to deliver and develop technologies for sustainable oceans.
With HullSkater, operators can now keep their hulls clean even in challenging conditions, allowing them to always benefit from the efficiencies of a clean hull and, at the same time, limit the spread of invasive species. We believe that proactive and automatic cleaning will become an important part of the mix going forward as operators strive for fuel-efficient, sustainable operations.
We’re confident that the partnership between Jotun and Kongsberg Maritime has succeeded in producing a reliable, high performance and sustainable solution for controlling underwater fouling and as a result enabling tangible efficiencies that will help to reduce the impact of shipping on the environment. An extensive trial period has given us a huge amount of data that proves this point.
HullSkater has already been operational for more than two years. It has been tested for several months on “Ester” the submerged steel test platform at Kongsberg Maritime Strandpromenaden in Horten. The full technical solution has been around the world many times on two commercial vessels, running missions in more than 30 ports. It has also been used in a port in the south of Spain for two months, running missions on more than 20 vessels. The coming 12 months will be a final verification phase to extend the number of vessels and to finalise the technology for large scale deployment.