Pleiades Shipping – Saving time and money with advanced technology for protecting rudders and running gear

MT Asopos in 2015 after Ecoshield was applied to rudder and nozzle.

Highest safety, quality and environmental standards

Pleiades Shipping Agents, headquartered in Athens, Greece, have 50 years of continuous experience of purchasing, successfully managing and operating merchant vessels of various types and sizes worldwide.

Pleiades began in the mid-1960s operating multi-purpose dry cargo vessels. By the late 1970s, the company had developed into one of the largest operators of multi-purpose general cargo vessels in the world, with a fleet of 34 ships of some 1.5m deadweight tons carrying capacity.

During the 1980s Pleiades saw its opportunity to enter the tanker market with Panamax, Suezmax and VLCCs regularly chartered by BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Texaco and other oil majors.

Between 2002 and 2006 the company built ten Panamax size ships, seven of which are sister vessels, highly appreciated by the market for their exceptional performance and carrying capability. Five new-built tankers were added to the fleet between 2011 and 2018.

Today Pleiades operates a fleet of five Panamax, three Aframax, three Chemical/Product tankers and has on order two new Aframax tankers to be delivered beginning 2023.

The mission of Pleiades Shipping Agents S.A. is to provide their customers with safe, environmentally sound and efficient chartering services: management of day-to-day operations, crew recruitment and training, insurance placement, supply of stores and spares, technical management, fuel bunkering and financial and accounting services.

Pleiades is highly regarded across the industry for its hands-on management style, prudent operating policies, rigorous tanker fleet maintenance, safety standards and its long-term commitment to capably serving the global oil transportation sector.

MT Evrotas, first of the Pleiades 2006 sister Panamax tankers to have the rudder protected with Ecoshield in January 2013.
MT Evrotas, first of the Pleiades 2006 sister Panamax tankers to have the rudder protected with Ecoshield in January 2013.

Maintaining the fleet

 
The fleet is maintained and operated to the highest industry standards by a highly competent technical team headed by Mr. Miltos Synefias, Technical Director. Mr. Dimitris Gyftopoulos, Naval Architect and Marine Engineer in the Technical Department at Pleiades for more than 20 years, confirms that the Pleiades attitude has always been forward-looking and open to new technologies and advances that result in an improvement in the ships’ performance and cost-effective operations. An example of this is their successful adoption of new technology to protect the ships’ running gear.

MT Aliakmon in drydock in 2013, rudder blasted prior to Ecoshield application.
MT Aliakmon in drydock in 2013, rudder blasted prior to Ecoshield application.

Cavitation problems with rudder blade

Pleiades was experiencing erosion problems with the ships’ rudders and propeller wake equalizing ducts resulting from cavitating flow.

“With all the Panamax sister vessels built in 2005 and 2006 we were experiencing erosion problems in way of the rudder blades and the wake equalizing duct of the propeller, especially in each forward part of the hydrofoil section that faces the water flow” explains Mr. Gyftopoulos. “So, either we were welding up or we were covering up the deep pits with hard epoxy filler material and then grinding before applying paint.” This had become standard part of every drydocking.

In 2013, Pleiades were approached by N. Bogdanos Marine Bureau, who represent both Subsea Industries and its sister company Hydrex, in Greece. Bogdanos is a technical office with more than 60 years’ experience of offering ship repair and underwater services and representing marine, offshore equipment, eco-coatings and ship repair yard services.

 

 

 

 

 

“With all the Panamax sister vessels built in 2005 and 2006 we were experiencing erosion problems .”

Cavitation damage on the rudder of the MT Asopos, a sister vessel to the Aliakmon, in 2015 prior to Ecoshield application.
Cavitation damage on the rudder of the MT Asopos, a sister vessel to the Aliakmon, in 2015 prior to Ecoshield application.


Bogdanos recommended Ecoshield to Pleiades to put an end to the continuing rudder and propeller duct problems they were encountering. Pleiades agreed to apply this solution.

The first application of Ecoshield was on the Evrotas in drydock in Poland in 2013. Mr. Miltos Synefias recalls few years later, “The decision to apply the coating on the first vessel was not an easy one, but the results obtained made the choice to extend the coating to other vessels obvious.”

“Then we started applying it to the other ships, one by one,” continues Mr. Gyftopoulos. “Later on, when we saw the vessels in drydock the next time 2-3 years later, we had the positive result of having a rudder blade and a propeller duct ring in practically intact condition.”

 

“The decision to apply Ecoshield on the first vessel was not an easy one, but the results obtained made the choice to extend the coating to other vessels obvious.”

 

 


“I am the one who usually drydocks all the sisters so I saw the result was astonishing,” says Mr. Gyftopoulos, who is enthusiastic about Ecoshield. “Even now with Xanthos a few days ago – my memory is fresh – after the high pressure washing to remove all the slime and dirt from the entire hull, we could see that the rudder blade and propeller nozzle were in excellent condition. We did not have to do anything. The Ecoshield was applied seven years ago. It’s still there. The propeller duct is a hollow ring with hydrofoil-shaped section forward and fin-like or plate aft all the way around. There was a section which had some minor damage, most probably mechanical, and this was washed down and repainted. Apart from this, the entire ring was excellent. We did not have to do anything. It’s fantastic.”

“She is already 17 years old and I don’t know how long the owner will keep her but I think for the remaining years of her life she’s going to be a beautiful lady.”

 

 

“We did not have to do anything. The Ecoshield was applied seven years ago. It’s still there.”

Saving time in drydock

The use of Ecoshield on all the sister vessels amounts to a considerable savings in terms of reduced drydocking and off-hire time.

“I would say you save half a day to a day in drydock,” Mr. Gyftopoulos calculates. “If you have a rudder blade that is really bad and you have to apply welding or a popular filler from another company and you have to wait for it to dry and then grind it down, then do steel work on the duct. You could lose a day. So having a rudder and propeller duct in good condition, from a typical drydock of let’s say 10 days, you save a day – roughly speaking 10-15% time saved from the total drydock. So, you could save a day of off-hire time. The market right now is $15-20,000 per day so you can save $15-20,000 off the drydock just for one off-hire day.”

“I think Ecoshield is cost-effective from drydock to drydock. In one drydock period, you recover your money. Since it will last for several drydockings it is definitely a cost-effective measure.”

 

 

 

“I would say you save a half day to a day in drydock, so you can save $15-20.000 off the drydock.”

Problem solved        

Like many other major shipping companies, Pleiades have found a permanent solution to the serious damage that cavitation can do to rudders, propeller ducts and other exposed hull sections. Cavitation has been a problem for these parts of a ship since the beginning of propeller driven steel ships. But now, with Ecoshield, the problems really are a thing of the past.

 

 

 

 

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