Netherlands-based ship hull cleaning and fouling removal specialist Fleet Cleaner has received additional scale-up funding from Rabobank which will aid in doubling its fleet size with the acquisition of three new work vessels. In 2020 Fleet Cleaner was given a Rabobank Growth Loan for Stimulating Innovation.
Fleet Cleaner developed its hull cleaning system to help shipowners improve efficiency and reduce fuel and related emissions by removing the biofouling that ships accumulate over time. The system comprises a remote controlled robot to remove the fouling and a work boat that collects the removed fouling for safe disposal later. The vessels currently in the fleet have been named Thunderbird 1, 2 and 3. They are converted inland vessels that work in ports in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The first new vessel will be launched in July and will be similar to Thunderbirds 1-3. The fifth ship is also similar to 1-4 and the last ship is a seaworthy support vessel. Each vessel is capable of cleaning around 150 ships annually. As well as its fouling removal service, Fleet Cleaner also offers and inspection service to give owners a fouling and coating status on the hull and the status of the propeller, seachests and rudder. Class certified inspections are done in cooperation with diving companies.
Alex Noordstrand CEO and co-founder at Fleet Cleaner comments, “We are honoured and grateful to receive this new scale-up financing which recognises our success over the last three years in helping shipowners run cleaner and more efficient ships and in tackling the problem of invasive species. New IMO rules mean that all ships are now obliged to do more to reduce carbon emissions and remove fouling is one of the most effective ways of doing this.”
Robbert Lut, startup & scale-up banker at Rabobank says, “We are very happy to be able to contribute to the next growth phase of Fleet Cleaner by providing them with scale-up funding. The company aligns perfectly with our ambition to support innovative and fast-growing companies. Cleaning of ships impacts the CO2 emissions and therefore contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of this sector. Through our financial products and services, our (international) network and our knowledge, we can help them in their growth and success.”
Picture (from left to right): René Boutkan, Finance Manager Fleet Cleaner; Patrick de Ruiter, Relationship Banker Rabobank; Alex Noordstrand, CEO Fleet Cleaner and Robbert Lut, Scale-up Banker Rabobank
Text: Stuart Brewer, Beacon Communications