Objectives and content:
Periodic inspection of ballast tanks and cargo spaces of tankers and dry cargovessels is mandatory on the basis of international rules aimed at a safe and environmentally benign navigation. From the construction stage to the eventual withdrawal from service, the ship's hull structure must be monitored by a series of periodic internal and external inspections to assess the continuing integrity of the steel structure. These inspection activities essentially consist of close-up visual inspections and steel plate thickness gauging. At the moment, they are carried out by human operators who must have direct access to the parts to be inspected.
This implies that:
- The tanks prior to the inspection are emptied, cleaned and degassed. Scaffolds are built where necessary to make every part of the ship accessible for inspection;
- The operators often-wearing protecting clothing and breathing apparatus, reach the internal structure members and perform the inspections. As a consequence the vessel must be fully available for such inspection activities and the operations must be carried out in a harbour area, causing a big impact on ship proficiency. Usually the inspection of a ship section takes a minimum of 34 days of ship stand-by. The inspection preparation and ship idle time cost about 80 kECU per year per vessel. The proposal aims at the development of a novel Remotely Operated Tanker Inspection System (ROTIS). It will consist of a free floating semiautonomous vehicle capable of navigating inside the main tanks and the ballast (filled with sea was areas through the standard openings and manholes and performing close up inspections and wall thickness gauging. This will save most of preparation cost, providing better quality inspection and more safety for human beings and for the environment, avoiding degassing and cleaning.
The main ROTIS subsystems will be:
- Underwater self-powered free floating vehicle featuring outstanding characteristics in terms of size, weight, operability and controllability in encumbered environment, ability to pass through typical manholes and capability of performing close visual inspection and wall thickness gauging. Chip inertial sensors (e.g. fibre optics gyro) and a high sensitivity video camera will serve for navigation and close-up visual inspection;
- An automatic tether management system installed on board the free floating vehicle capable of pulling and releasing the fibre optic cable in such a way to prevent friction and cable entanglement;
- A mini arm provided with a multiple function end effect or providing for vehicle docking, surface cleaning, and wall thickness measurement;
- Surface control unit, allowing a thorough control of the remote vehicle, fitted with advanced HMI (Human Machine Interface) to permit the operator to clearly understand the ROV position with reference to the ship structure.
Graphic representations of the scenario and information integration will constitute the basis for this HMI. The final result will be an operational prototype, tested and qualified by end users in industrial conditions, under the supervision of a competent certification authority. The economical benefits give a considerable margin to the cost of a successive commercial system. It is expected that such a commercial system will be available within a couple of years after the termination of the project. The formal approval of the proposed Remotely Operated Tanker Inspection System by the certification authorities, necessary for its subsequent commercialisation is facilitated by the participation of a Classification Society in the project and the availability of the tested and qualified prototype system by an end user for any qualification procedures necessary after the end of the project. Besides the obvious impact on competitivity, the inspection procedure being cheaper, more secure and the rough and dirty part of the work associated with the inspection eliminated, will result to inspections of enhanced quality, leading to a more secure navigation with all the associated benefits to safety and environment. BE97-4225
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
00060 Santa Maria Di Galeria Roma