Hull Grooming/Advanced Hull Cleaning Technologies

While all marine operations hope eventually to be able to prevent biofouling at low-cost and no maintenance, at present it is periodically necessary to mechanically clean a ship's hull. This requires periodic maintenance for the removal of marine biofouling. Because this is a labor-intensive operation, the Navy is developing autonomous robotic devices that can continuously "groom" the hull surface. Some challenges, apart from building an autonomous device, are associated with the development of sensor systems (detectors and analysis-and-control software) that can provide both navigation and path planning and discrimination between clean and fouled surfaces.

While large diver-operated aggressive cleaning methods currently exist, a more proactive continuous "grooming" of the hull by autonomous vehicles that occurs at the onset of bioufouling settlement/colonization should reduce maintenance costs and maintain a clean hull that will minimize fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Approaches to grooming methods that minimize surface damage or are non-contact in nature are of extreme interest to the technology's development.


  • Periodic proactive removal of marine organisms from ship hulls in naval operations

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Paul Armistead

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 33

Division: Naval Materials


Office of Naval Research
875 N. Randolph Street
Arlington, Va. 22203

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