The main issue is that without continuous monitoring, a leak could still occur at any point in between tests during a journey, and a crew member is still needed for testing. Research is being carried out by enterprises such as Coltraco Ltd. to create the most comprehensive and safe solution using ultrasonic technology.
It was found that a comprehensive, autonomous continuous monitoring system for the watertight integrity of a ship’s cargo hatches, weathertight doors and other seals is possible to be developed. One that is capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers and crew to the location and severity of the leak site and logging all data by hatch cover for future review. Coltraco is looking to see this technology fully utilised by 2020, as part of a pioneering wider vessel system integration and shore-based data management. It is becoming clear that UT is developing into an integral component of watertight integrity testing for ship hatch covers in particular, and is best positioned to secure the safety of vessels in the shipping Industry. Ultrasonic readings from hatches / doors / MCTs can also be logged and trended over time which helps increase safety and can also be used for insurance companies. There is more work to be done, and the future of UT must be condition-based monitoring of hatch covers, providing continuous monitoring.
A monitoring system is required for the watertight integrity of important seals capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers to the location and severity of the leak site and logging all the data from hatch cover tester for future review. Continuous monitoring of this kind has the potential to centralise a vessel’s watertight and airtight integrity into a single alarm system. When used on a warship, such a system would also allow the status of the ship to be transmitted for an analysis and response by supporting vessels.
The future of UT is increasingly moving towards constant and even automatic monitoring of the performance of all types of seals, especially critical ones. Furthermore, in the near future, low power ultrasonic generators will allow submarine crews to easily conduct watertight integrity tests without the risk of alerting enemy vessels to their presence by picking up the ultrasonic noise through the hull.