The importance of routine maintenance in the maritime sector cannot be disputed. Marine engineers and industry professionals alike frequently stress the importance of routine maintenance, inspection and repairs for vessels and ships as well as other important infrastructure. From ensuring ports are operating efficiently to successfully managing important offshore infrastructure, maintenance services ensure optimised fuel and energy efficiency, less chance of downtime and of course, boost the operational productivity of oceangoing vessels in the industry.

While some activities can be accomplished by seafarers themselves, others are best left to the professionals – especially when tasks need to be done below the surface of the ocean. For instance, operators and owners in the industry frequently use commercial divers to do underwater hull inspections and repairs while the vessels are still afloat. This specialised type of service, most commonly known as underwater marine services, has a plethora of benefits for the industry. It’s also useful when dry docking is not an option.

So are underwater marine services worth it? And what are underwater maritime services anyway?

What are underwater maritime services?

As the name suggests, underwater marine services are complex technical solutions carried out underneath vessels and other important infrastructure below the surface of the water. 

Also known as subsea services, underwater marine services are important because they allow owners/operators working within the maritime industry to complete complex maintenance tasks, routine inspections and repairs below the waterline with very little disruption to the vessel’s operation continuity. As a result, underwater marine services can be helpful in reducing downtime and boosting productivity. 

For example, when the removal of ocean creatures such as plants, algae or small animals is needed from the hull of a ship, owners/operators can utilise underwater marine services, which are far less costly and time-intensive than other more traditional methods such as dry docking. 

Underwater marine services can include… 

Surveys and inspections

Underwater marine services can be used for vessel surveys and inspections. By removing operational disturbances through the need for dry-docking, underwater marine services can save businesses both time and money when it comes to routine maintenance and inspections.

Hull cleaning

Once marine fouling starts to build up on a vessel’s hull, it is quite challenging to find and remove. Therefore, it’s important to regularly clean a hull to get rid of build-up rather than letting sea life such as barnacles and mussels take over. Failure to do so can cause turbulence and even noise pollution, all of which can affect how well a vessel’s speed, sonars, and other on-hull sensors work. 

For obvious reasons, underwater marine services are especially useful for cleaning the hull of a vessel and ensuring routine maintenance can be carried out with minimal disruption to operations.

Propeller polishing

Propellers should be polished regularly. Doing so reduces surface roughness caused by the build-up of marine fouling, which occurs when organisms like mussels or seaweed attach to vessels. Operational performance can also be enhanced by a smooth, clean propeller which can prevent marine organisms from impairing the vessel’s effectiveness.

Underwater engineering

As the name suggests, underwater engineers complete more complex repairs and maintenance of a ship below the surface of the water. Underwater engineering is a crucial service that plays a crucial role in maintaining the efficiency and structural integrity of a vessel – it’s also made possible by underwater marine services.

Are underwater marine services worth it?

While some activities can be accomplished by seafarers themselves, others are best left to the professionals. Underwater marine services boast several advantages for the industry as a whole and are most often used by owners/operators to minimise disruption and cut costs when it comes to routine maintenance. 

Efficient & safe

Making sure a vessel and associated subsea infrastructure are safe to use is the primary objective of underwater inspections. Fractures, dents, rust and leaks for instance can endanger the structural integrity of a vessel and put the physical wellbeing of seafarers at risk. 

The build-up of debris and other residual particles in the ocean makes subsea infrastructure vulnerable to inefficiencies. This is due to the fact that a sizable portion of the hull remains submerged and is constantly exposed to one of the world’s most formidable natural forces – the ocean. As a result, it’s essential to regularly check a vessel for any potential damage. This kind of maintenance can be carried out through underwater marine services, meaning inspections and repairs can be made quickly with minimal downtime. 

Environmentally sustainable

A damaged and/or improperly maintained hull can discharge marine toxins and corrosive particles that can contaminate our oceans and even threaten marine species. As a result, marine life, seafood stocks and overall water quality can be impacted by a dirty or damaged vessel.

This is another reason why underwater marine services are so important. Routine underwater inspections can help safeguard marine life from harmful substances including fuel spills and protect our oceans for decades to come.

Final thoughts

So what are underwater marine services? And are they worth it?

Every aspect of the maritime industry’s daily operations, from ports and land-based infrastructure to the ships and vessels that transport cargo, is dependent on routine inspections, maintenance and repairs. This is because regular maintenance can ensure boost the productivity of oceangoing ships, and other crucial infrastructure operating within the industry.

While some maintenance tasks can be carried out by seafarers themselves, it is best to leave other, more complex tasks to the experts – especially those that are performed below the waterline. Commercial divers are frequently hired by operators and owners to undertake hull inspections and repairs as well as other underwater marine services on their ships while they are still operating at sea. This means, with the least amount of downtime possible, the sector is still able to execute routine inspections and maintenance without resorting to time-intensive and costly dry docking. The importance of underwater marine services to the sector’s overall efficiency and productivity should not be disregarded.

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