posals and modifications, we’re
looking at corrosion changes.”
But it is not an easy problem to
solve. Obstacles such as environ-
mental regulations — which may
prevent the Navy from using a
corrosion-resistant metal that also
is bad for the environment, for
example — force Navy engineers
to be creative sometimes.
“You’re fighting that battle of,
‘How do I get the performance of corrosion resistance but still be environmentally friendly?’” Spadafora said.
Ultimately, it’s a critical issue for
the Navy to get a handle on, and
not just because of how much it
costs the service in terms of funds.
“Most people think of corrosion
as a maintenance or nuisance
issue, but there’s more to it than
that,” he said.
For one thing, corrosion makes
ships and aircraft less available to
the warfighters who need them. As
a result, corrosion leads to a direct
loss in capability for the Navy. Not
only that, but corrosion also poses
another major problem: danger to
“We have lost pilots to failures that have been related to corrosion,” Spadafora said.
A.D. Baker III, a naval analyst and author, noted
that corrosion has plagued the Navy ever since the first
piece of ship metal was exposed to the elements, and
the service has learned a lot of lessons over the years.
But it is a problem the service still is a long way from
figuring out, even for new ships, pointing to corrosion
problems that have cropped up in both variants of the
Littoral Combat Ship.
“Everything has corrosion,” he said. “If it’s made out
of steel, it’s got corrosion. If it’s made with steel attach-
ing to some alloy, you get corrosion.”
That said, modern corrosion-resistant hull coatings
have extended the lives of vessels and staved off corro-
sion for a number of years. Still, Baker said he worries
that a lack of an emphasis on proper ship manning is
undermining anti-corrosion efforts to an extent.
“Coatings have gotten much better, so corrosion is
less of a problem,” Baker said. “But if you look at the fleet
today, most of it looks like a third-world Navy because
you don’t have the people to take care of the ships we do
have and will probably be living with for another 30
years — not in a big way, but in a way.” ;
Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Robert Primm, assigned to the
Dragon Slayers of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11, performs corro-
sion prevention maintenance Feb. 2 on an SH-60F Seahawk helicopter aboard
the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise while underway in the Atlantic Ocean as
part of exercise Bold Alligator 2012.
That, however, will require some shifts in acquisition policy from the way it is being done now.
Acquisition Category I programs — Pentagon parlance
for the most-expensive, highest-priority programs —
are only required to address corrosion in milestones B
and C, which come well after the preliminary design
phase. However, because most of the design is finalized
by then, the programs will have to retrofit any changes
to the design to address corrosion, which is much
more expensive than including those changes in the
design at the outset, Spadafora said. Instead, his office
is pushing for corrosion control initiatives to be executed earlier in the program, at milestone A, or even
before, if possible.
The office has been in discussions with the Office of
the Secretary of Defense to consider that and other initiatives to bring corrosion to the forefront, and the
other services are involved as well.
However, that’s not the only tactic Spadafora’s office
plans to employ to combat corrosion.
“It’s a multifaceted approach,” he said. “We also have
to look at new technologies for fielded systems, including coating technologies. We’re looking at improved
processes. When we’re doing engineering change pro-