The maritime industry plays a crucial role in global trade and commerce, with roughly 90% of goods transported by sea every year. However, to ensure productivity is maximised and operations are efficient, the maritime industry faces many industry-specific challenges, including the maintenance and repair of vessels.
Two common methods used for vessel maintenance are dry docking and underwater marine services. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between them depends on several factors, including the type of vessel, the scope of work required and of course, the location of the vessel.
What is dry docking?
Dry docking is a maintenance method that involves removing an ocean-going vessel from the water and into a dry dock, where it can be inspected, repaired, and maintained. During dry docking, a vessel is placed on a platform or cradle that can be raised or lowered as needed. Once the vessel is secured in place, the water is drained from the dry dock, exposing the hull and allowing maintenance work to be carried out on it. This can include tasks such as cleaning, painting and repairing the hull, as well as inspecting and repairing other components such as propellers, shafts and rudders.
Benefits of dry docking include…
. Maintenance and repairs –
Dry docking allows for maintenance and repairs of the underwater parts of the vessel such as the hull, propellers, rudders and other components that cannot be easily accessed while the vessel is in the water. This helps to extend the lifespan of the vessel and ensure it remains safe and operational.
. Inspection and surveying –
Dry docking also provides an opportunity for a thorough inspection of the vessel’s exterior and interior. This can help identify any damage that needs to be resolved before they escalate.
. Upgrades and modifications –
Dry docking provides an opportunity for upgrades and modifications to be made to the vessel, such as the installation of new equipment or the addition of new features.
. Improved fuel efficiency –
Dry docking can also help improve the fuel efficiency of a vessel by cleaning the hull as well as applying coatings that reduce drag and improve the vessel’s fuel consumption.
. Compliance with regulations –
Dry docking is often required by regulatory bodies to ensure vessels are safe and comply with industry standards and regulations.
What are underwater marine services?
As the name suggests, underwater marine services refer to maintenance and repair work that is carried out on a vessel while it is still in the water. This can include tasks such as cleaning the hull, inspecting and repairing propellers, and replacing or repairing sea chests, valves and other components. Underwater marine services are usually performed by professional divers or remotely operated vehicles that can access the underwater parts of the vessel.
Benefits of underwater marine services include…
. Maintenance and repair of underwater structures –
Underwater marine services can help maintain and repair structures such as offshore platforms, bridges, pipelines and other submerged infrastructure. This helps to extend the lifespan of the structures as well as ensure they remain safe and functional.
. Inspection and surveying –
Underwater marine services can help the maritime industry conduct inspections and surveys of underwater structures to assess their condition, identify any issues and provide recommendations for repairs and maintenance.
. Environmental monitoring –
Underwater marine services can also help monitor and assess the impact of human activity on our oceans and our marine environments. This can include monitoring pollution levels, conducting marine biodiversity surveys and assessing the health of coral reefs and other underwater ecosystems.
Which is better?
The main difference between underwater marine services and dry docking is the location where the maintenance work is carried out. Underwater marine services are performed while the vessel is still in the water, whereas dry docking involves taking the vessel out of the water and onto a dry dock platform for maintenance and repair work.
In saying that, underwater marine services are often considered the more efficient and modern option when it comes to routine inspections and maintenance. Advantages of underwater marine services over dry docking include…
. Reduced downtime –
Underwater marine services can be performed without the need to take the vessel out of the water, which reduces downtime and allows the vessel to continue operating during maintenance and repairs. This is especially beneficial for vessels that need frequent or ongoing maintenance and cannot afford to be out of service for extended periods.
. Cost-effective –
Underwater marine services can be more cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for expensive dry docking facilities and equipment. Additionally, the cost of transporting a vessel to and from a dry dock can be significant, whereas underwater marine services can be performed at the vessel’s location.
. Less disruptive –
Underwater marine services can be less disruptive to vessel operations and logistics, as it eliminates the need to find alternative arrangements for cargo and crew while the vessel is out of service for dry docking.
. Real-time inspection –
Underwater marine services can provide real-time inspection of the vessel’s underwater components, allowing for immediate identification and repair of any issues that are detected.
That being said, underwater marine services may not always be suitable for all maintenance and repair tasks, and there may be situations where dry docking is the better option. At the end of the day, choosing between dry docking or underwater marine services will depend on the specific needs and circumstances of your vessel. In general, day-to-day maintenance, inspections and repairs can be performed using underwater marine services, while major repairs and inspections may require dry docking. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision on which method to use will depend on the specific needs and circumstances of the vessel.
In conclusion, the management of marine vessels and equipment is crucial to ensuring their longevity, safety, and optimal performance. Dry docking and underwater marine services are both essential components of this management process, with each offering unique benefits and limitations.
While dry docking provides a comprehensive platform for maintenance and repair work, underwater marine services are more efficient and cost-effective for minor repairs and inspections. Ultimately, the choice between dry docking and underwater marine services depends on the specific needs of the vessel, as well as the resources and timelines available.
Regardless of which method is chosen, it is imperative to prioritise the maintenance and repair of marine equipment to ensure safety, operational efficiency, and environmental responsibility.