USS Essex recently took to sea with a new coat of paint developed by researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for the exterior topsides of Navy surface ships.
Until April of 2017, NRL’s new single-component (1K) polysiloxane coating had only been tested on 400-800 sq.ft. areas of ships due to limited production quantities and the typical size of topside paint repairs conducted by their crews.
However, based on positive sailor feedback, and the 1K coating’s outperformance of existing coatings with regard to color and gloss retention in sunlight, sailors from the USS Essex (LHD-2) requested that larger quantities of the 1K polysiloxane coating be produced to paint the entire freeboard, approximately 105,000 sq.ft.
Painting with 1K also helped return the ship to its required semi-gloss, haze gray camouflage appearance.
Dr. Erick Iezzi of NRL’s Chemistry Division is the principal investigator and inventor of the 1K technology.
“The Navy was in need of a better solution for all the topside painting performed by Sailors on surface ships,” Iezzi said. “The 1K is advantageous in that it provides greater than 5 times the retention of visual camouflage and better resistance to shipboard contaminants, such as running rust and soot, than the legacy silicone alkyds, which should reduce future costs to the Navy by eliminating the need to overcoat the latter every 9 to 12 months as a result of discoloration and staining.”
The application on the freeboard of the USS Essex was performed entirely by sailors, consumed more than 300 gallons of the 1K polysiloxane, and took about 4 weeks to complete.
Single-component refers to an all-in-one-can system that does not require the measuring and mixing of two or more components before application, thus providing a “user-friendly” system for Sailors when applying on ships.
“The 1K polysiloxane is easy to use. There is no mixing, surface preparation is easy, and it covers well,” said Lt. j.g. Donald Ham, Essex’s Assistant Deck Department Head. “We painted our entire hull with approximately 320 gallons of the 1K, whereas it would have taken greater quantities of qualified two-component (2K) polysiloxanes. Thus, we not only saved time, but we saved money. The best part is that the 1K polysiloxane rolls-on the ship just like the legacy silicone alkyds.”
Funding for development, optimization and transition of the technology was provided by the Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) Command.
“The 1K polysiloxane coating has tremendous potential,” said Mark Lattner, manager for the NAVSEA Paint Center of Excellence program. “If the application on the USS Essex performs as expected, our Sailors will be empowered with an advanced coating technology that is robust, easy to use, and will yield significant cost avoidance.”
NRL representatives and NAVSEA Corrosion Control Assistance Team (CCAT) members oversaw the application on the USS Essex and documented all aspects of the application. The performance of the 1K polysiloxane on the USS Essex will be monitored for several years, although the coating is estimated to be on the Qualified Products Database (QPD) by August 2017. The 1K polysiloxane is expected to save the Navy several million dollars annually once fully implemented.
The patented technology, U.S. 9139753, has been licensed to a coating manufacturer for optimization and scale-up, and testing to the Navy’s MIL-PRF-24635, Type V (high-durability) topside performance requirements were supervised by James Tagert of NRL’s Chemistry Division.