Nippon Paint Marine has developed a novel hull inspection tool that negates the need for divers or remotely operated vehicles. The underwater inspection of a ship’s hull coating can now be performed by a single inspector on dry land or from a boat.
Simple by design but highly effective, the NPM Hull Monitor System uses state-of-the-art GoPro camera technology attached to a 10m telescopic pole to quickly inspect the in-water condition of a vessel’s antifouling paint. A live video feed is relayed to the operator’s smartphone for real-time monitoring and recording. The entire set up can easily be packed into a small case and carried as regular luggage on an aircraft.
Dozens of vessels have already been inspected using the device, which Nippon Paint Marine Technical Manager Atsuhiro “Hiro” Yamashita said has reduced paint inspection timescales and associated costs considerably.
“The NPM Hull Monitor has already been deployed with several vessels’ underwater hull coatings inspected using the device from shoreside and a small boat.
“With the limitation of the pole length, it might not be able to cover the entire underwater surface of the vessel, however, the video image brought from the system was good enough to evaluate the underwater coating system as, in most cases, the areas around, and a certain depth from the waterline, show the most severe condition for underwater and antifouling coating systems.”
As a market leader in ships’ antifouling systems, Nippon Paint Marine needed a quick, reliable, portable, and cost-effective monitoring system to allow underwater inspections without the need for costly divers or ROVs.
The widespread development and availability of small, digital underwater hobby cameras enabled the leader of the coatings to develop and tailor the system.
The camera can record 4,000 hours of high-definition video with real-time monitoring possible via a smartphone, feeding back standardized reports to the company’s R&D or technical teams.
The method has been especially beneficial in the development of new underwater coating products.
“By using our own underwater inspection tools, we are able to make much quicker assessment on the performance of new coating systems more effectively, rather than sending divers down. It allows us to speed up the development process by checking progress over time in real-life scenarios. Our teams are now able to quickly inspect vessels wherever they are.”