A diver operates the vacu-cart, a hull- cleaning machine that could revolutionise 
the shipping industry.     
Picture: Supplied
A diver operates the vacu-cart, a hull- cleaning machine that could revolutionise 
the shipping industry. Picture: Supplied
Picture: Picasa
Picture: Picasa
Durban - New environmental regulations to stop the translocation of alien species from fouling South African harbours comes with an added benefit - new technology and new jobs.

This is the view of John Kennedy, a US entrepreneur and partner in South African maritime technology company Schomberg, which has co-developed a unique hull-cleaning machine - a vacuum cart that could revolutionise the shipping industry. The vacu-cart can be controlled by a diver or operated remotely.

Kennedy was reacting to a report in Network (May 29) announcing a decision by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) that it had given approval for the reintroduction of in-water hull cleaning of ships in port.

Advances in technology allow companies to combat biofouling during the cleaning of hulls by using in-water hull-cleaning services.

Schomberg has plans to manufacture under licence the Twister Vacu-Cart and Reclaim System in Durban, “creating much-needed employment”, Kennedy said.

The Twister Vacu-Cart and Reclaim System is the product of five years’ research and development in three countries and meets the International Maritime Organisation environmental regulations.

A philanthropist with strong roots in KwaZulu-Natal and an MIT lecturer in his home city of Boston in the US, Kennedy applauded the TNPA’s decision to reintroduce in-water hull-cleaning in South African ports as a commitment to protecting the marine environment.

Many countries have been concerned about the threat biofouling poses to marine ecosystems. Marine organisms like barnacles and mussels that attach themselves to hulls of ships are bad for the environment by slowing ships and increasing the carbon footprint of vessels, and putting local marine life at risk when these organisms are cleaned off the hulls of ships in distant ports.

He says his team has developed a unique and environmentally friendly approach to underwater hull cleaning that ensures minimal ecological impact. He believes the Twister Vacu-Cart and Reclaim System would have appeal to all ship owners and ports internationally.

The cleaning and capture system transfers the debris to the surface where it goes through an internationally certified filtration process to eliminate and neutralise the alien invasive species (AIS) before the filtered water is discharged back into the sea. The solid debris is disposed of at registered landfill sites.

The Mercury