Skip to Main Content
Home / News / 5 Ways ROVs Cut Down on Dry Docking
Back to News

5 Ways ROVs Cut Down on Dry Docking

Rachel Doornekamp   |   February 10, 2020

Hull inspection is a necessary task for travelling vessels. Keeping a constant eye on the physical condition of the underside of your vessel may seem like a cumbersome task, however it is critical to ensure proper boat safety and maintenance over the long term.

Why do you have to inspect your hull regularly? The truth is there are numerous important reasons why. The primary reason for performing regular ship inspections is to ensure that the vessel is in top condition. It is imperative that there are no cracks, leaks, dents or irregularities that can comprise the hull. Catching these imperfections early prevents dangerous issues and expensive fixes later on.

Hulls should also be regularly inspected for potential contraband or attached foreign objects. This is especially applicable for visitors arriving in a port of entry to ensure that vessels are safe and secure upon arrival.

Invasive species are a problem that impact a number of ecosystems around the globe. Environmental activists, marine biologists and aquaculturists alike are concerned about the potential havoc that could be wreaked upon local environments if invasive species are introduced. Frequent inspections confirm that a boat is not unknowingly carrying these invasive species into areas where it would cause harm.

Ensuring the paint job is holding up is an important task. In addition to reducing future maintenance costs, smooth and top quality paint jobs can reduce drag and subsequent fuel costs. Regular inspection ensures that the paint job is in optimal condition.

What is Dry Docking

A dry dock is a basin that can be fully drained to allow a vessel to rest on a platform to allow for construction, maintenance, inspection and repair of watercraft.

Dry docking is a mandatory, regulatory requirement within the maritime industry. These necessary inspections are important to ensure that your vessel meets safety standards however dry docking between regulatory inspections can be minimized with the use of an ROV. Cutting down on unnecessary dry docking saves boaters serious amounts of time and money.

The cost of having a ship dry docked can be astronomical. Compounding the cost of dry docking is the time that the ship will be out of commission. An average dry docking inspection takes 10-14 days. Taking ship out of service for this amount of time is a huge financial impact to any organization. Furthermore, it takes time and fuel to get the ship to a dry dock, adding to the financial and time burden of dry docking.

While dry docking (typically once every 5 years) is a regulatory requirement within the maritime industry, dry docking in between necessary inspections can be significantly reduced with the use of an ROV.

ROV for UWILD Inspection

The use of an ROV for Underwater Inspection in Lieu of Dry-Docking (UWILD) provides numerous benefits to the user. In addition to the financial and time benefits of using an ROV, an ROV provides a safe, non disruptive manner in which to conduct inspections.

Frequent ship inspections with an ROV are a straightforward and convenient way for inspectors to stay on top of hull examinations and minimize dry dockings between mandatory inspections.

Read on for five ways that ROVs help users cut down on dry docking.

4k Camera

A high quality camera is imperative for ROV hull inspections. Deep Trekker’s 4k cameras are specially designed to work in low light, providing inspectors with useful images to determine hull condition. The internal HD camera allows pilots to accurately inspect the condition of the hull markings, sea chests, inlets and discharges, rudders, pintles, sacrificial anodes and propeller. In addition to the live viewing of underwater hulls, users can document and record the inspection with photos, recorded video and video labelling. This documented footage allows inspections to be reviewed and filed away safely.

The high quality camera allows pilots to accurately inspect the hull without the need for frequent dry docking.


Sound Navigation and Ranging (sonar) technology is key for providing visual in dark or turbid water. With a sonar attachment pilots can get a clear visualization of underwater environments. Using sonar on a ship hull allows operators to see the underside of the ship no matter the conditions.

Sonar is especially useful at entry ports. Using side scan sonar, inspectors can quickly determine if any contraband has been attached to a ship’s hull before allowing the vessel to pass.

Deploy a ROV to perform quick, safe and affordable hull inspections

Contact Industry Specialist

Thickness Gauge

The Cygnus thickness gauge is an industry-leading ultrasonic thickness gauge able to be integrated onto your Deep Trekker ROV. With the thickness gauge, pilots can evaluate the thickness of steel on hulls and other metal surfaces without needing to dry dock or send down a diver.

The probe presses onto the surface, taking an accurate measurement even though marine growth or coatings. This data can then be displayed and recorded via Cygnus software on a laptop.

The use of a thickness gauge provides accurate readings into the quality of hull material. The ability to obtain this sort of information not only ensures structural integrity, but provides peace of mind to ship owners and operators.

Laser Scaler

The laser scaler attachment is valuable as it provides operators with a legitimate reference to gauge the size of cracks, scratches, dents and other faults. The laser scaler sends out two laser beams 25mm apart from above the camera. Perhaps most helpful is that these lasers track with the camera as it is rotated so that they are always in view.

Perfect for when you need to determine the approximate size of an object or fault, the laser scaler is a useful and valuable tool for ship hull inspections.

Mag Crawler

Deep Trekker’s DT640 MAG Utility Crawler provides an additional method for underwater hull inspection. The magnetic wheeled crawler uses rare earth magnetic wheels to travel horizontally, vertically or upside down on any ferrous metal surface.

The DT640 crawls the ship hull, allowing for simple and efficient inspections. The DT640 also allows for sophisticated add ons like the pressure washer attachment and vacuum head attachment for additional versatility and functionality.

Check out our blog posts to learn about UWILD Best Practices and Optimizing Your ROV for Hull Inspection . As always, you can reach out to our team of industry experts with any questions you may have.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest news, updates, and amazing offers delivered right to your inbox

Learn More About Our Products

View Products

Looking for Resources on Our ROVs?

View Resources

See What Our Customers are Saying

Our Stories