During the most recent drydockings of several vessels of the Belgian Navy coated with Ecospeed, the underwater hulls were still in excellent condition and only a few touch-ups were needed. Among these vessels were the mine hunter M915 Lobelia, which was coated in 2006, and three tugboats, two of which were also coated in 2006 and one A950 Valcke, which had been sailing with Ecospeed for over five years.
The Belgian Navy chose to use Ecospeed after deciding to test environmentally friendly coatings to see the economical and ecological advantages such products could give. After very satisfactory results with a first Ecospeed coating in 2004 on the mine-hunter Aster, the Navy decided to give the same protective coating to Crocus and Godetia. All results were equally impressive and they consequently chose the Ecospeed solution for almost their entire fleet.
With conventional anti-fouling paint systems the average hull roughness and consequently hull friction increases over the lifetime of a ship. This is due to several factors, the main one being the result of paint layer build-up every time the ship has to be repainted. On top of this, corrosion, cavitation and mechanical damage add to the roughness as does the accumulation of marine fouling on the underwater hull of the vessel. This last factor is especially significant for Navy ships where fouling inevitably builds up much faster during long idle periods in between operations. All these elements lead to a loss of performance and an increase in fuel consumption.
This is in strong contrast with Ecospeed. The coating properties make it impossible for fouling to penetrate the surface. As a result Ecospeed will not deteriorate and the optimum average hull roughness will be regained and in fact improved after each cleaning because surface integrity is maintained. As Ecospeed allows hull cleaning to be performed quickly, effectively and at any point in the vessel’s life span, ship hulls can be kept in optimum condition. The Belgian Navy has its own cleaning equipment and this, combined with Ecospeed’s durability, allows it to keep its fleet in the best possible operating state, which is a major advantage for any military unit. Compared with conventional anti-fouling paints, Ecospeed gives the Navy greater savings on fuel costs and a wider operational range. (More information on the benefits of underwater cleaning of Ecospeed can be found on this page.)
Furthermore, vessels coated with the tough impermeable Ecospeed coating are also protected against corrosion and cavitation, and mechanical damage is reduced to a minimum. Flow channel tests organized by the French Ministry of Defense have confirmed Ecospeed’s resistance to cavitation. These tests were divided into six stages during which the coating was exposed to an increasing pressure drop which created an intensified cavitation force. Even after the last stage no erosion was present on the test patch coated with Ecospeed.
In the past the Belgian Navy repainted its vessels every year with a copper-based anti-fouling paint. However, with Ecospeed no repainting is necessary during the lifetime of the vessel. This eliminates paint layer build-up which can help the Navy in achieving its goal of prolonging the drydock interval of its ships to 12 years.