Coatings Put To Test To Keep Ships Cool
Every Sailor who has made a deployment to the Persian Gulf can agree on one thing: it's blistering hot. At least two out of every three Navy ship deployments are made to high-temperature areas. Sustained operations in searing weather increase stress on both equipment and crew.
To help lessen the load on shipboard cooling systems, NAVSEA's Corrosion Control Division (SEA 03M) is testing a new derivative of the anti-stain paints already being tested by the Navy — an anti-stain paint that also absorbs fewer of the sun's rays. This special characteristic is known as Low Solar Absorption (LSA). This coating incorporates LSA and anti-stain properties into the standard topside paint formulation, and is applied in the same manner as the old paint system. The LSA coating is expected to result in interior temperature reductions of at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The LSA coating will also help reduce ambient exterior temperatures by reducing solar absorption.
USS Fletcher (DD 992), undergoing a maintenance availability at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, is the first ship to receive the entire LSA paint package — stem to stern, freeboard to superstructure, and decks. The package consists of two different LSA coatings: an anti-stain coating for freeboard and superstructure and a non-skid coating for decks. USS Fletcher leaves the shipyard in a late summer/early fall timeframe.
To quantify any temperature reduction achieved as a result of the LSA coating, temperature sensors were placed throughout USS Fletcher before painting began. Initial readings from the sensors were recorded and sent to the Naval Research Lab (NRL). Readings will be taken again after LSA coating application is completed, and will be taken regularly thereafter to provide NRL meaningful data with which to perform an analysis.
The LSA coating also has anti-stain properties. Anti-stain coatings use chelating technology to avoid staining. A chelating additive chemically transforms rust into a transparent film — in effect removing the reddish stain.
The LSA coating will lessen the load on shipboard cooling systems while improving working and living conditions aboard ship. In addition, fewer hours will be required for topside paint preservation, easing the "chipping and painting" burden on the ship's crew. At the same time, the ship's operating systems will be able to function more efficiently, even in high-temperature zones. Once the temperature reduction data from USS Fletcher is validated, NAVSEA's Corrosion Control Division will begin immediate delivery of the LSA paint package to the rest of the Fleet. LSA technology is part of the Capital Investment for Labor (SEA LABOR) program, which is a series of initiatives to reduce maintenance workload through superior products and technology. (Richard Parks, Director, NAVSEA's Corrosion Control Division)