Game of thrones

Mar 29, 2024 | Featured Article, Lifting The Lid

Boviatsi puts on a big smile and says: “When I tell people what I do for a living, they usually go Wow!”

The 30-year-old, who joined Jotun in 2021, grew up in a small Greek village and took her mechanical engineering degree at the University of Patras, two hours’ drive from Athens.

“I am a Skate Operator – meaning I operate the Jotun HullSkater – our first robotic device designed to clean a ship’s underwater hull,” explains Boviatsi.

In the job interview, she was asked about any gaming experience. “I played many FPS (first person shooting) games in my youth, but most of all, I was playing Gran Turismo (car game) on PlayStation. This taught me about screen perspectives and camera directions. Now I have the same kind of steering wheel at work. It has been valuable, because I can operate the robot with the same logic,” she says.

Eleni Boviatsi at her PlayStation

Greek engineer Eleni Boviatsi at her PlayStation setup used to remotely control Jotun’s greatest innovation


Design collaboration

The HullSkater was created through collaboration between the Norwegian companies Kongsberg and Jotun. By cleaning a ship’s hull and thereby preventing fouling, the robot works together with an applied antifouling system and does three things:

  • Reduces fuel consumption,
  • Reduces CO2 emissions
  • Reduces the spread of invasive species.


“We launch the robot, assess the hull and perform a proactive cleaning,” says Boviatsi. “We remove incipient biofilm and thereby prevent biofouling from growing. With minimal friction, the ship glides easily in the water. Afterwards, we share our findings with the shipowner and our colleagues, to make sure we continue the learning process,” she adds.

Looking into the future

Right now, Boviatsi is one of eight skater operators in Jotun.

“There are four operators in Korea, two in Singapore, one in Athens and me in Sandefjord,” she continues. “Geographic location doesn’t matter that much, really, as I can operate a robot in Panama or anywhere in the world from my workstation.”

Two years after joining Jotun, Boviatsi had the opportunity to go on a temporary assignment at the group headquarters in Sandefjord, Norway.

“Now, I’m mostly testing and developing new releases of the HullSkater system that the robot is a part of, as well as training new skate operators. We are always looking into the future, in terms of new designs, how to install the robot on the ship, and so on,” she explains.

A few months remain of her short-term assignment in Norway. This is a Jotun concept enabling employees to take on a temporary role. The employee develops new skills and finds new inspiration. For the organisation, the sharing of knowledge and perspectives across departments and boarders is the key.

“It was shocking to experience snow in April, but it has been great,” says Boviatsi. “Temporarily living here – enjoying Norwegian culture, meeting new people, learning new things – without having to do big, long-term changes in my life, has been wonderful.

“I have made friends for life, and I would recommend such an assignment to anyone,” she concludes.

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