Sr. Vitalina (left on top) and Sr. Avelin (right on top) with laboratory staff (below) at SHMRC-St. Mary’s campus

SHMRC maintains two research facilities. The first is located within the campus of St. Mary’s College in Tuticorin serves as the main research, training and offices facilities. The second is a beach laboratory located along the Tuticorin coast in Karrapad Cove where marine research operations are taking place. In December 2004, SHMRC completed the construction of its new Beach Research Laboratories along the shore of Tuticorin Bay in Karrapad. Because this new facility is in close proximity to the floating test platforms in the protected bay area, this new facility enables SHMRC to expand its R&D capabilities in marine coatings evaluation and marine research. Soon after its completion, the 2004 tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, also had Tuticorin along its direct path. Miraculously, the beach facilities and the staff who were in the labs and on the platforms survived the tsunami.

Panorama of the cove with the two test platforms on the far right

The Beach Laboratory also serves as the operational facility for all field research activities of the center.

Shown below are the floating test platforms for static immersion testing and the new dynamic immersion test facility. For more detailed information about the tests and the test site, please click HERE.

Launching of the dynamic test platform

Close up view of the test platforms

Marine Coatings Exposure Facilities. The degradation of the marine ecosystem comes from a wide range of pollution sources. Among the most devastating chemicals come from the toxic compounds (biocides) used in marine paints that are added to prevent the attachment of barnacles, algae and other fouling organisms on the bottom of the hull of ships and other submerged surfaces. The use of tributyl tin (TBT) as marine toxicant was banned by the International Maritime Organization of the United Nations in 2003. Many more toxic chemicals remain in use. And, until such time that nontoxic alternatives are developed, these biocides will continue to cause pollution in the oceans.

The development of research facilities to study marine paints and nontoxic additives are part of the long term program to identify potential natural compounds that may be used to replace biocides in current commercial use. To determine the performance of novel nontoxic coatings and additives, exposure platforms had been built within the protected cove of Karrapad, where aggressive year-round fouling of submerged surfaces by barnacles are naturally present. Static immersion and dynamic test platforms are available to enable simulation of the performance of coatings under natural conditions. For more information about this research, please click HERE.

Leach Rate Analysis. Marine paints are among the major sources of pollution of the oceans. This results from the leaching of biocides and heavy metals from the submerged portions of the hull as the ship travels or while in port. Thus, the measurement of the release of copper, zinc and other biocides from marine paints is important in determining not only the efficiency of the marine paints, but also its environmental consequences.
SHMRC currently operates a new test facility that enables the measurement of release of biocides from marine paints and submerged surfaces following ASTM methods. Current R&D involves development of improved methods of measuring biocide release by integrating SHMRC’s field research capabilities and its laboratory testing operation to establish a more suitable method that more closely approximates the biocide release under marine conditions.

Collaborations. SHMRC has long term collaboration with Poseidon Sciences Group, a US research and development corporation. This collaboration, which began in 1994 has continued to this date.