U.S. Navy sailors have been scraping paint off ships for a couple hundred years.
Enough, the Navy now says.
Declaring grinding, chipping, scraping and similar tasks tedious, time-consuming and archaic, the service is shopping for new methods, tools and technologies to remove marine coatings and prepare ships for painting.
The mission comes from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is scouting around for “non-traditional surface preparation technologies” that improve cleaning efficiency, reduce prep time and impart the proper surface profile of 2-3 mils.
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|Sailors scrape paint off the USS Wyoming in drydock in the early 1900s. The Navy is looking for a better way.|
“These technologies can range from methods of coating removal using microwaves, lasers, heat induction (focused heat), and ultrasound, which can all be categorized as ‘working waves,’ in lieu of current mechanical methods” or industrial processes like high-pressure waterjetting and abrasive blasting, according to a new federal solicitation.
The solicitation is not a request for bids or a promise of business. It is—so far, at least—just an invitation for companies to provide information and a look at the state of the art in 21st-century ship surface preparation technologies.
The Navy wants nimbler, lighter, cleaner methods.
“The primary objective would be to stress technology that can be made portable (backpack wearable or on wheels) and easy for sailors to operate, with all units utilizing a handheld coating removal / surface preparation device and, where feasible, may incorporate a protective vacuum cone or shroud for both collection of hazardous waste and isolation of particles from contact with sailors and ship systems,” the solicitation says.
“Technologies do not have to be presently at such a readiness level for shipboard implementation but have an identifiable, realistic path.”
Mundane and Archaic
The solicitation calls corrosion-related surface preparation and repair on Navy ships “a time-consuming and mundane task for many sailors.”
The job typically requires “archaic mechanical tools (e.g., needle guns, chipping hammers and metal grinders) to remove areas of coatings, rust and salt with the goal of generating a clean and corrosion-free metal surface.”
But mundane does not mean unimportant, the Navy notes. To the contrary, it cites information by both SSPC and NACE in declaring poor or improper surface preparation “the major cause for premature coating failure.”
Proposals must be emailed by 5 p.m. EST June 30. For more information, contact Reese Van Wyen, contract specialist, at email@example.com.