UK's First Boat with Duplex Silicone Coating
A Blyth Workcat patrol boat nearing completion for the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries Conservation Area (KEIFCA) has become the first vessel in the UK to be treated with Duplex fouling release. The silicone coating is manufactured by Fuji Smart Surfaces and was chosen by KEIFCA for its new 17-metre boat, the FPV Nerissa, because it is able to prevent the adhesion of fouling without the use of toxins that would be harmful to the fisheries.
It also provides the benefit of a long lifespan that eliminates the need for the boat to be regularly hoisted-out for fresh coats of antifouling to be applied. This saving in operational costs will also be enhanced through the increased speed and lower fuel consumption anticipated throughout the Nerissa’s operational life due to the low-friction surface created.
The Nerissa is expected to enter service in the autumn when it will be used by teams monitoring fish stocks and supervising fishing activities in an area of over 3,412 sq km extending from the east end of Rye Bay in Kent to the northern boundary of Essex on the River Stour. Because it will be covering a wide area of exposed water KEIFCA specified a durable Blyth Workcat that is capable of operating in extreme offshore conditions for prolonged periods if necessary.
The Nerissa is consequently certified for carrying 12 persons plus two-crew during operations in any weather up to 60 miles from a safe haven. There is a fully equipped galley and comfortable sleeping accommodation for six people that can be used when the boat is on an extended patrol.
The black Duplex coating was applied to the Nerissa by a team of specialist paint sprayers who completed the application of the advanced epoxy tie-coat and the silicone finishing coat over two days at the Blyth Workcats yard on Canvey Island, Essex.
Unlike conventional anti-fouling and in common with other silicone-based products, Duplex does not employ any chemicals or poisons to kill marine life. Duplex works simply by denying it a base to which it can adhere securely. Although organisms may colonise a Duplex coated hull that remains stationary, as soon as the vessel moves through the water at speeds as low as 8 knots they become unable to retain their grip and are simply washed-off.
Duplex was developed by the US Navy for its own use and is now manufactured by part of the Fujifilm Corporation. Trials conducted by the Navy revealed reductions in fuel consumption ranging from 5 to 15 per cent while boat speeds have been recorded as increasing by as much as 10 per cent. Laboratory tests of adhesion and abrasion resistance conducted by the US Naval Research Laboratory have shown that Duplex out-performs all other silicone-based products by a considerable margin. Because it does not erode or leach biocides and heavy metals into the water the Duplex film will maintain its resistance to fouling at the same level as when it was first applied and one coating consequently has a guaranteed life span of five years although it is expected to last considerably longer.
The speed and fuel economy benefits that the coating provides will also remain unchanged throughout its life. Duplex has consequently been sold successfully on the US market since its launch three years ago. However, due to licensing restrictions it has not been available in the UK or most of Europe until now and following the arrival of Smart Surfaces Ltd, Duplex is now available as an important new option for UK ship and boat operators.