How MME Group is helping shipowners to combat corrosion

Michaël Roerade and Eric Bouman outline how the company’s systems reduce the risk of corrosion and marine growth damaging vessels

How MME Group is helping shipowners to combat corrosion
MME Group has supplied sacrificial anodes, ICCP and ICAF systems for Symphony of the Seas (Image: Royal Caribbean International)

Corrosion is one of the largest threats to oceangoing vessels. Seawater, salt-laden air, sulphur within fuel, barnacles and microbes are just some of the factors that can cause a ship’s body, tanks, pipework and other essential systems to deteriorate, which can have a significant impact on the vessel’s performance and profitability.

Headquartered in The Netherlands, MME Group has spent decades developing and installing sacrificial anodes, impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) and impressed current anti-fouling (ICAF) systems on passenger ships and other vessels to reduce corrosion and marine growth.

“Sacrificial anodes have been the go-to solution for protection against corrosion for a long time, because it’s a passive solution that doesn’t require an external power source,” says Michaël Roerade, senior marketing communication officer at MME Group. “A more electrically reactive metal (usually zinc for oceangoing ships) is attached to the ship’s hull and slowly dissolves, protecting the steel hull in the process. Depending on the ship’s docking interval, the sacrificial anodes need to be replaced every three to five years.”

ICCP systems provide longer-lasting protection against corrosion, given that they can run for up to 25 years if they are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These systems consist of one or more reference electrodes and several hull-mounted anodes, which are all connected to a power unit. “The reference cells measure the electrical protection potential underwater and based on this data, the power unit regulates the required output to the anodes,” Roerade explains. “The resulting impressed current prevents the corrosion process from taking place.”

Meanwhile, ICAF systems consist of copper and aluminium anodes that are mounted in the ship’s sea chests or strainers and are connected to a power unit. “The system releases a small volume of copper ions into the seawater, preventing barnacles and other marine growth from settling on the interior of the vessel’s cooling system,” says Roerade. “The aluminium ions that are produced in the process also prevent corrosion.”

MME Group also provides class-approved ultrasonic thickness measurements, destructive and non-destructive testing and IRATA-certified rope access to help shipowners safeguard the integrity and profitability of their ships.

“We are one of the few companies that produce sacrificial anodes in-house,” explains Roerade. “We manufacture all anodes in our foundry located in the UK, which means we can closely control quality. We’re also able to supply all anode types at competitive rates and with good delivery time from our warehouse in The Netherlands.”

Unlike some companies, MME Group does not use what Roerade terms as the ‘printer ink’ business model for selling ICAF systems. This approach sees companies adding chips to the copper anodes so they can sell systems at low prices, but still make a profit.

“To keep these systems running, shipowners are forced to buy replacement anodes from that specific supplier and also need to buy expensive renewal codes for the power units, but this is not how MME Group rolls,” says Roerade.“We prefer a level playing field in which all market players compete based on performance in terms of quality, price, service and delivery times. With our systems, a shipowner is free to choose the supplier of replacement copper anodes. While we welcome their business, we understand that if a ship goes into dry dock on the other side of the world, it may be more convenient for a customer to use a supplier that is located nearby. We’ve noticed that more and more shipowners – including those in the cruise industry and those in other shipping sectors – appreciate this approach and often ask us to replace the entire system.”

MME Group is also listed as an approved copper anode supplier in Article 95 of the EU’s Biocidials Product Regulation (BPR).

“Any vessel sailing in EU waters must have a marine growth preventive system (MGPS)/ICAF system that has copper anodes supplied by companies on the Article 95 list,” says Roerade. “If shipowners, operators or shipyards purchase equipment or spare parts from a supplier that is not on the Article 95 list, they violate EU BPR regulations, so they risk receiving a penalty from the relevant national supervising authority. MME Group is listed, so our customers know that they will be compliant with this legislation.”

Multiple shipowners recognise the benefits of working with MME Group. In early 2018, for example, Genting Hong Kong contracted MME Group to deliver its sacrificial anodes, ICCP and ICAF systems for three 20,000gt Endeavor Class exploration yachts for its Crystal Cruises brand (due for delivery between 2019 and 2021) and two 201,000gt Global Class ocean cruise ships for its Asia-based Dream Cruises brand (due for delivery in 2020 and 2021). All five vessels will be built by Genting Hong Kong-owned shipyard MV Werften in Germany.

“Genting Hong Kong said it chose to work with MME Group because of our decades of experience, proven track record and extensive reference list,” says Eric Bouman, sales manager at MME Group. “We started closely cooperating with MV Werften and Finland-based design company Deltamarin from the early stages of the engineering process.”

Bouman says that MME Group will deliver and install all of the equipment during the initial construction stages. “We carry out intensive factory acceptance tests before delivering the equipment, and then commissioning will take place right after installation and preferably right after the vessel has been launched.”

In addition to the projects at MV Werften, MME Group has also supplied sacrificial anodes, ICCP and ICAF systems for cruise ships that have been built at STX France.

“We have already supplied systems for Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, as well as MSC Cruises’ MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima and MSC Gradiosa newbuilds,” says Bouman. “Currently, we are in the process of delivering for MSC Cruises’ Mervaliglia Plus ships and Royal Caribbean’s fifth Oasis-class ship.”

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley
25 April 2018