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Thunderbird II Sports Innovative Hull Cleaning Systems

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

July 19, 2021

On July 16, 2021, Thunderbird 2 (TB2) was christened in Rotterdam by Mirelle Pennings, Director of Commercial Banking at Rabobank. The TB2 is the second working vessel of Fleet Cleaner, a green scale-up from Delft that uses self-developed robots to clean ships hulls. It is the world's first ship, too, according to Fleet Cleaner, that can clean tankers explosion-safe during loading and unloading.

After seven months of construction, Friday was finally the day: the second Fleet Cleaner working vessel was christened. What is unique is that both the accompanying cleaning robot as well as the crane and all the equipment on deck is ATEX certified which makes it explosion-safe, explains Alex Noordstrand, CEO of Fleet Cleaner. "We followed the guidelines that tankers themselves use: from sensors that measure gas to the crew accommodation that is set to overpressure."


L to R: Mirelle Pennings, Director of Commercial Banking at Rabobank; Alex Noordstrand, CEO of Fleet Cleaner; and Cornelis de Vet. Photo courtesy Wouter Slits


Fleet Cleaner's cleaning robot, which is controlled from a working vessel, cleans the ship's hull during loading and unloading. With a clean ship, a shipowner saves about 10% on fuel costs, accounting for about 5,000 tons of CO2 savings per year per ship. For the tank storage company Vopak, this was reason enough to participate in a pilot project with the explosion-safe installation. With success: several tankers have since been cleaned during loading and unloading, and the service is now commercially available.

Because of the corona guidelines, it was a modest christening, with Pennings, in the presence of the founders, smashing a bottle of bubbles against the ship. "As Rabobank, we have been very closely associated with the TU Delft Campus and all the initiatives that arise there to help entrepreneurs grow sustainably for decades," said Penning. " Also with the RoboHouse fieldlab from which Fleet Cleaner operates. In this way we come into contact early with technology-driven companies and are we ready for when such companies are going through a growth spurt. Fleet Cleaner is a great example of this."

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