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The earliest anti-fouling systems consisted of two elements. The first was a metal scraper and the second was the lowest ranking sailor on the vessel. But seriously, the buildup of biological matter on the submerged hull is a huge problem for the material and for the efficiency of the vessel. The task of manually scraping bottoms was made much easier when sheet copper was fastened to the bottom of wooden hulled ships. Eventually the technology advanced to produce paint that held copper compounds and slowly released them into the environment.
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