Advanced Coatings Enhance Aesthetics, Durability and Safety
- Maritime Partners launched the first of its new barges featuring coating systems from Sherwin-Williams in an inland waterway where it was ready to be put to work hauling commodities.
- Applicators carefully coated topside equipment to ensure long-term resistance to corrosion, weathering and chemicals.
- The topside deck and other walkable surfaces of the new barges feature a non-skid aluminum oxide coating system to enhance operator safety.
As Maritime Partners LLC built out its modern fleet of new tank barges, quality coatings and responsiveness to last-minute color changes supported that fleet expansion. Sherwin-Williams was there to meet the challenge.
The hulking silhouette of a tank barge is instantly recognizable to anyone who has spent time on the shores of an inland waterway in the United States. These massive flat-bottomed vessels help to maintain the healthy functioning of the domestic economy, transporting vital commodities such as agricultural products, chemicals and petroleum products. With more barges traversing waterways today, signs are pointing to a growing economy.
Recognizing the barge market’s current growth potential, Maritime Partners LLC, an established player in the U.S. maritime leasing industry, recently began building its own barges to lease directly to customers. As the Metairie, Louisiana-based company expands its role, it plans to build a safer fleet of barges and pushboats. Most recently, the company completed a build of six new 30,000-barrel tank barges for use on inland U.S. waterways. Seeking to deliver a durable and aesthetically pleasing long-term solution to its leasing customers, Maritime Partners turned to Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings to provide a premium protective coating system for the new barges.
“Our primary focus is on our customers and their service needs,” said Austin Sperry, Chief Operating Officer at Maritime Partners LLC. “Therefore, we wanted to ensure the coating system we chose would facilitate reliable performance anywhere our customers may operate.”
To meet the demanding service requirements for the tank barges, Maritime Partners selected a series of primers, epoxies, polyurethanes and additives from Sherwin-Williams. In addition to providing important performance functions like corrosion resistance and non-skid service, the coatings will maintain gloss and color after years of service in the challenging marine environments in which the barges will operate.
Defining Performance Demands
The six new towable tank barges are among the latest additions added to Maritime Partners’ fleet. With plans for future fleet expansion, it was crucial for the vessel owner to set a high standard for performance with this round of construction. The new barges will be responsible for transporting a variety of commodities through inland rivers and canals, requiring corrosion resistance to both freshwater and saltwater environments.
The design and construction of the tank barges focused on three main service requirements: reliable performance, durable aesthetics and improved safety features. Sherwin-Williams’ premium coatings systems met each of these requirements, providing long-lasting solutions that will make work safer for deckhands and minimize future maintenance needs.
“The coating solution delivered by Sherwin-Williams was exactly what we needed to be confident in the extended service life of these new barges,” said Sperry. “In addition, their technical expertise was extremely valuable during the shipbuilding process, as they offered another set of eyes on the coating applications to confirm we were on the right track. We are extremely impressed with the products and service we have received to date and look forward to continuing our partnership with Sherwin-Williams.”
Building Coating Performance: Layer by Layer
The shipbuilding process began by preparing the steel for construction and creating a suitable surface profile to promote coating adherence. Immediately after abrasive-blasting the steel at the shipyard, applicators primed the steel onsite using Sherwin-Williams’ Zinc Clad 3100 as a pre-construction primer (PCP). Used as a PCP, the coating prevents general corrosion from taking place on the steel during barge fabrication, saving time and money by eliminating the need to reblast the steel before applying coatings.
After assembling the barge, applicators power washed the vessels to remove dirt and contaminants before coating. They first applied a stripe coat of Sherwin-Williams’ SeaGuard 6000 Marine Epoxy to corners, welds, seams and any sharp edges to ensure a high coating build on these rough areas and assist with edge retention. A modified epoxy phenalkamine, SeaGuard 6000 provided the necessary freshwater and saltwater immersion resistance demanded by the new tank barges. The use of the SeaGuard 6000 aluminum option – for both the stripe coat and the first coat that touched the steel – further enhanced corrosion resistance for each barge.
Following the stripe coat, applicators then coated every piece of steel on the inside and outside of the barge with SeaGuard 6000. Next, they applied a third coat of the epoxy, bolstered by non-skid aluminum oxide additives used on topside deck surfaces, to the entire exterior, including an additional stripe coat for good measure.
The applicators completed the barge coating process using durable polyurethane coatings specified to the barge owners’ individual color schemes, with three different color systems used across the six new vessels. For the first vessels, they used Sherwin-Williams’ high-gloss Hi-Solids Polyurethane coating, resulting in a striking finish and high-performance protection. For the later builds, Maritime Partners opted for Acrolon 7300, a lower-gloss acrylic polyurethane coating. Both coatings provide resistance to corrosion, weathering and chemicals, as well as excellent gloss and color retention, ensuring the tank barges will maintain their impressive appearance over years of service.
All told, each barge used approximately 350 gallons of the Zinc Clad 3100 PCP, 2,000 gallons of SeaGuard 6000 and 180 gallons of the polyurethane coatings.
Flexibility: with Colors & Service Requests
Sherwin-Williams’ industry-leading experience and local inventory availability proved to be invaluable during shipbuilding, as Maritime Partners changed its requested color systems for two vessels late in the process. With Sherwin-Williams’ ability to perform custom tinting in its local store, the company was able to meet the barge owner’s change requests while keeping pace with the ambitious construction timeline.
By meeting Maritime Partners’ needs and providing valuable technical oversight, Sherwin-Williams also proved to be a worthwhile partner in the construction process. An onsite Technical Service Representative ensured that each step of the coating process was completed to Sherwin-Williams’ standards, while keeping the barge owner and shipyard up to date with evaluations, reports and opinions.
“We were thankful for the ability of Sherwin-Williams to respond to some last-minute changes without affecting construction,” said Sperry. “Their agility and preparedness allowed us to proceed with confidence that we were best meeting our customers’ needs for aesthetics.”
As Maritime Partners expands its barge fleet, the leasing operator intends to break new ground in tank barge safety. A new set of barges, to be built in mid-2019, will feature the widest decks ever to be constructed on a tank barge. This expanded surface area will make work safer for deckhands, giving them more room to maneuver and reducing the potential for injury.
Supporting this safety initiative, the walkable topside surfaces of the wider-deck barges will feature a 20-mesh non-skid coating system from Sherwin-Williams. Applicators will add small granular particles of aluminum oxide to the intermediate epoxy coat and lock them in with the polyurethane topcoat to ensure the skid-inhibiting surface profile will not wear down over time during deck washdowns. The resulting non-skid surface will provide a useful grip that will enhance operator safety, much like it is on the six recently completed barges, which also feature this solution.
Setting the Standard for a Growing Fleet
As Maritime Partners continues to expand its fleet, the new tank barges will serve as an important benchmark for quality, appearance and durability. The premium coating system delivered by Sherwin-Williams will enhance Maritime Partners’ ability to satisfy its leasing customers, while the teamwork and responsiveness demonstrated during their collaboration bodes well for future developments in tank barge construction.
Michael Manetta is Global Market Director – Rail, Marine and Power Generation for Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings. He has 15 years of experience in the coatings industry with several sales and marketing roles within multiple end use segments. He is a NACE CIP level III inspector. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in the April 2019 print edition of MarineNews magazine.