A breakthrough in icebreaker hull protection
When British Antarctic Survey’s RRS (Royal Research Ship) Ernest Shackleton was drydocked recently in Denmark, the superintendent, engineers and paint specialists there to check the condition of the hull paint were amazed. After two seasons of battering its way through ice up to 2.5 meters thick with a high content of gravel and volcanic lava adding to its abrasiveness, the hull coating was virtually intact and undamaged. This was in strong contrast to the Shackleton’s previous drydocking, when almost the entire hull, bearing a conventional ice-going underwater hull coating, was practically stripped to bare, unprotected steel.
The difference lay in the fact that when the Shackleton left drydock in 2009, the hull was newly coated with Ecospeed, a glass flake vinyl ester resin underwater hull coating proven to have extraordinary anti-corrosion protective strength and flexibility. Even though Ecospeed is not intended specifically for ice-going ships and icebreakers, it consistently outperforms the specialized ice-going ship bottom paints.
The success of the new underwater hull coating on the Shackleton, whose hull can genuinely be said to undergo the harshest of conditions of just about any vessel afloat, is a story well worth telling in detail.
The full text of the article on this vessel, together with many pictures, can be found on the Hydrex website.