This paper provides a general insight into the importance of proper hull maintenance and suggests an optimal maintenance strategy for ship operators from both an economic and environmental point of view. Results of life cycle assessment show that significant cost reductions can be obtained by renewing steels every 10 years within the proposed hull maintenance strategy. The assessment also indicates that annual hull inspections and re-coating can contribute to reducing hull resistance and hence fuel consumption, thereby reducing the overall operating costs and emissions. This paper provides ship owners a direct relationship between effective hull maintenance and the reduction in maintenance cost. It also provides information to inform policy makers of the benefits of following a maintenance optimization strategy. This study shows that life cycle assessment can provide information to shipyards and owners to facilitate reliable long-term maintenance decisions.