By Team Submarine Public Affairs
Submarine Team One (ST1), a cross-organizational group charged with providing permanent improvement in cost savings and performance to submarine depot availabilities, is currently focusing on the removal of hull-coating tiles in submarine sails.
ST1 consists of Commander, Naval Submarine Forces; Commander, Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet; Naval Sea Systems Command's (NAVSEA) Deputy Commander for Undersea Warfare (SEA 07); the Submarine Maintenance Engineering, Planning and Procurement Activity; Deputy Commander for Industrial Operations; Naval Nuclear Propulsion; Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair Groton and Norfolk, and the Naval Shipyards
“Our concern with the tiles in the sail is the corrosion that occurs behind them,” said Capt. A.J. Mullarky, SEA 07's Program Manager for Strategic and Attack Submarines. “The corrosion is hidden from view and not discovered until the tile is removed in depot availabilities, which leads to higher availability costs.”
Removal of the tiles will reduce the cost of depot availabilities and reduce the total weight of the ship. ST1 estimates that by removing the tiles, 55 mandays and $22 thousand in materials will be saved during each major depot availability (MDA), which conservatively translates into a total savings of around $75 thousand per MDA.
An even larger cost avoidance could be found in the reduction or outright elimination of sail structural repairs due to corrosion. Structural repairs are several times the cost of the tiles.
The USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709) sail structural repairs alone cost $2 million. The submarine served as the test platform for sail tile removal during its recent availability. Sea trials following the availability showed no adverse effects from tiles being removed.
This success has led to a change in requirements for all first flight Los Angeles Class submarines. The USS Hartford (SSN 768) is the test platform for Improved Los Angeles Class submarines, and if this proves to be successful, this ST1 initiative can be implemented across these submarines as well.