Last June, the 88-meter ice class passenger ferry Lomer-Gouin was coated with Ecospeed on the Isle-aux-Coudres in Québec, Canada. The 4,233 gross tonnage vessel is owned by the Société des Traversiers du Québec and will be protected against damage from impact with ice while safely transporting passengers between the Canadian cities of Lévis and Québec.
Since 1971, the Société des Traversiers du Québec (STQ) has provided dependable and safe ferry services to the population of Québec and visitors. Today, the company’s ferries oversee an extensive network that extends from Montreal to the Lower North Shore, to the islands-de-la-Madeleine.
MV Lomer-Gouin pays tribute to Québec's 13th premier, who later became lieutenant governor of the province. The vessel was built in the inaugural year of STQ and like all other ships owned by the company undergoes a meticulous maintenance program. Regular and rigorous inspections give information to mechanics about the necessary tune-ups or repairs. Each ship also has systems designed to protect the environment, more specifically to treat liquid waste and oil.
While cutting across the St. Lawrence river, STQ ships hold out against the winds, the strength of the currents and the difficult conditions of ice. They adapt themselves to the tides. This allows the transport of thousands of passengers, vehicles and the distribution of tons of goods from one shore to the other, even in harsh winter conditions.
Best possible protection against ice
The Ecospeed coating is the perfect way to offer a ship like this a lasting and full protection against the icy conditions it is faced with in the colder months of the year. For this reason the owners had Ecospeed applied on the underwater hull of the vessel, including the ice belt. This is the area on the underwater hull most prone to mechanical damage from sailing through and breaking ice. On the bow the ice belt can extend to about 1 meter above the waterline. Ecospeed has received the Lloyd’s Register certificate that recognizes the coating as an abrasion resistant ice coating. This allows owners of newbuild vessels intending to navigate in ice conditions to reduce the thickness of the plating of the ice belt as long as this area is coated with Ecospeed.
Advantages of Ecospeed for ferries
Under normal operation, ferries have to drydock once a year to comply with classification regulations. During the busy tourist season these ferries need to be sailing to make money so the best time for drydocking is the low season when there are fewer passengers. For this reason the majority of these ferries come into drydock for a short time during the winter months. This short drydocking times give ferry operators little opportunity to take all the hull maintenance steps needed to reduce fuel consumption.
The use of Ecospeed on the underwater hulls opens the door to looking deeper into how to optimize fuel efficiency in between dockings. Ferries sail on a fixed route, so the ports they visit and the turnaround time is known in advance. Knowing the exact schedule makes it possible to implement a stricter underwater maintenance program.
Ecospeed’s performance-enhancing benefits, enable ferry owners to optimize the hulls and thus the fuel efficiency of their vessels. The smoothness attained by the coating provides best hydrodynamic conditions for the vessel to operate at maximum efficiency.
Ecospeed is guaranteed for 10 years and has a life expectancy of 25 years and will therefore protect these vessels for the remainder of their service life without the need for a full repainting during future drydockings. This is another very important benefit for ferry owners. Ecospeed allows them to keep the yearly drydock visit as short as possible, without having to take the coating into consideration.
Besides its durable resistance to mechanical damage, Ecospeed is also a non-toxic coating and offers a TBT-free, copper-free, biocide-free and silicone oil-free solution for the protection of the underwater hull. In 2008 stringent tests were carried out within the framework of an EU-LIFE demonstration project to provide scientific data and to authenticate the non-toxicity of the Ecospeed hull performance technology. This research proved that the coating is 100% toxicant free and that it produces no negative effect on the water quality or the marine environment at any point.
By applying Ecospeed on their vessels, owners can drastically reduce their carbon footprint. This offers significant value to owners like the Société des Traversiers du Québec that take their corporate responsibility towards cleaner seas and environmentally safe ship hull husbandry very seriously.
Due to its unique composition, when it comes to icebreakers and ice going vessels, Ecospeed is not only the best protection available for underwater hulls, but also for the rudder or any other part prone to cavitation damage. The coating can keep the underwater part of any vessel safe for the entire length of its sailing life.