Oceanbulk tests robotic ship inspection technologies with Bureau Veritas

Oceanbulk has completed a test project with Bureau Veritas to evaluate a variety of different remote inspection technologies and techniques (RIT) to conduct robot-led ship inspections.

The testing programme aimed to establish a ‘proof of concept’ for remote inspections, including an aerial drone, a miniature remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and magnetic crawlers on an Oceanbulk double-skin supramax bulk carrier, built in 2008 and classed by Bureau Veritas.

The remote tools were supplied and operated by Glafcos Marine, a Greek technical services specialist. The tests were conducted under the same conditions and, to secure the necessary information, were required at an ‘intermediate’ survey for a bulk carrier of the age of the subject ship, between the second and third class renewal surveys.  

The vessel was inspected during a recent call to the Neorion shipyard in Syros, Greece, for work on the stern that required a specific ballasted condition. Inspections of flooded tanks were achieved by a mini-underwater ROV, eliminating any need for de-ballasting.

At the same time, the holds and structure were examined by a drone and magnetic crawlers. The magnetic crawlers were equipped with ultrasonic thickness measurement (UTM) sensors to provide close-up pictures and UTM readings.

“In line with our ESG principles and in an effort to improve our operational efficiency and safety, Oceanbulk Maritime S.A has been actively involved in a number of national, EU and international projects including BUGWRIGHT2 which aims to offer robotic services in ship inspections. We are delighted to be part of this BV initiative and we wish to express our appreciation to those involved in such a successful test,” said Milena Pappa of Oceanbulk.

“During the tests on site, it was evident that robotic services could be a very useful and efficient tool, especially in difficult areas (upper parts of cargo holds) and during adverse conditions (full ballast tanks). By utilising drones and ROVs, all close up inspections and UTM could be completed in a much safer, efficient and quicker way. We believe that incorporation of these techniques in class rules will boost technology further and Oceanbulk will be here to assist as much as possible.”

Bureau Veritas says that the next steps in this ongoing process should include the establishment of specific regulations to be employed on board during the use of these system, as well the related certification and training of robotic operators.

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Rob O'Dwyer

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