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Hull Holes Laid to Coating Damage

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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Coating damage and inadequate cathodic protection caused the corrosion that left holes in the hull of a brand-new $500 million Coast Guard cutter, an internal investigation has concluded.

The "unusual pattern of corrosion" observed on the National Security Cutter Stratton "was caused by damage to the hull coating, caused by below-the-waterline welding, coupled with a cathodic protection system that was operating in an 'underprotect' configuration," contributing to corrosion on the hull, the Coast Guard's Engineering Analysis Board has announced.

Christening, Collision

The announcement May 2 was just the latest chapter in the short, but eventful, life of USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752).

USCGC Stratton
Department of Defense

The Stratton hosted a visit Oct. 31, 2011, from Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp Jr. Six weeks later, the cutter was damaged in a collision with a pier.

Built by Northrop Grumman's Ship System Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS, the Stratton was christened by First Lady Michelle Obama in July 2010.

The Stratton is the third Legend-class cutter of eight planned and the first "white hull" cutter named after a woman since the 1980s. The 418-foot-long cutter is named for Coast Guard Capt. Dorothy C. Stratton, who served as director of the SPARS, the Coast Guard Women's Reserve, during World War II.

Following sea trials, the Coast Guard acquired the Stratton on Sept. 2, 2011. On Dec. 19 of that year, the cutter collided with a pier in San Francisco in front of onlookers and guests from the Navy League while being conned by her Executive Officer, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

Commission, Corrosion

After repairs, the ship was commissioned on March 31, 2012. The following month, however, authorities discovered corrosion and holes in the hull, and the ship was sent to drydock for repairs.

The Coast Guard described three of the holes as "pinholes" and the fourth as "slightly smaller than a golf ball." At that time, the Coast Guard said it expected permanent repairs to take four to six weeks. However, the Stratton has been "fully operational" only since March, the Coast Guard now says.

Lt. Dorothy Stratton and Adm. Waesche
U.S. Coast Guard

New Legend-class Coast Guard cutters are named for Capt. Dorothy Stratton and Adm. Russell Waesche, pictured here in the 1940s. During Stratton's tenure, the Coast Guard boasted the armed services' highest ratio of women to men.

The Coast Guard then "conducted visual inspections" on the other two cutters in the class, the Bertholf and Waesche.

"These inspections provided indication that the corrosion seen on the Stratton was an isolated incident and not a class-wide issue," the Coast Guard said.

Recommendations

In addition to determining contributing factors, the Engineering Analysis Board provided several recommendations to prevent future corrosion. 

The recommendations include better training on the use of cathodic protection systems and avoiding welding on wetted hull surfaces.  

The Stratton has been fully repaired, the Coast Guard said. No details of the repairs were released.

   

Tagged categories: Cathodic protection; Coating failure; Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Department of Defense (DOD); Marine Coatings; Welding

Comment from Joel Chaidez, (5/14/2013, 10:13 AM)

Anyone know the specs and which manufacture was used for the underwater hull coatings?


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/14/2013, 11:18 AM)

There is NO WAY that a properly designed half-Billion dollar ship should have holes corroded in the hull after just a couple years, even if the CP system was entirely shut off. The only reasons I can come up with offhand are: Very poor design like those Navy littoral combat ships, very poor painting or they ran the CP system backwards and accelerated the corrosion....


Comment from Shaun Gneiting, (5/14/2013, 1:59 PM)

What's the possibility of corrupion with those contracted to do the work? welding the holes up with inferior material/workmanship and using inferior coating, like patching a hole in a ferrari with a piece of tin can and some bondo and charging 2 mil


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