09 January 2012

Corrosion Control Assist Team (CCAT)

On Tuesday, I visited USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL (DDG 81) to observe the Corrosion Control Assist Team (CCAT) in action. The CCAT is a joint NAVSEA and Fleet initiative created to educate and assist Fleet Sailors in ship preservation and corrosion control. The team conducts training and brings expertise, tools and new technology to our ships during an intensive corrosion control and prevention visit.

My visit was led by BMC Anthony Pici and from the very beginning it was evident to me that his team has complete ownership (read: control) of the problem. BMC Pici has engaged the entire ship and created a “Damage Control-like” environment in which every member of the crew is responsible for some aspect of corrosion control and prevention, just like every member of the crew is expected to have fundamental DC skills. His Corrosion Control Tiger Team shares the knowledge, tactics and techniques they learned from the CCAT to ensure every Sailor on the ship is capable of contributing to the fight against corrosion. I was very encouraged by the work being done by BMC Pici and his team and look forward to a future update.

The retired BMCM who led the CCAT gave me a terrific walk-around pointing out the many things done in construction, material selection, etc that add significantly to every ship’s corrosion problems. There are many things we can do differently to help ourselves and our Sailors – we’re going to get after them.

In addition to my discussions with the crew of CHURCHILL, I received feedback from the crew of USS LABOON – another one of our ships whose crew benefited from the CCAT training. LABOON’s crew provided the following best practices that have been particularly useful in their fight against corrosion:

  • Created a 10-person Corrosion Control Division (CCD) in support of an initial Corrosion Control Assistance Team (CCAT) visit. Based on the success achieved, CCD became a permanent organization onboard.
  • CCD conducts topside preservation and attends training on corrosion control procedures; during inclement weather their focus shifts to fan rooms, castleways, bilges and interior spaces. CCD is responsible for managing the paint locker and corrosion control tool issue.
  • Members of CCD are volunteers and are "IA'd" from their division; they report permanently to CCD and have no PMS, DCPO, admin or other responsibilities with their former divisions. CCD personnel conduct preservation inport and underway and are in a duty free status during the period of their assignment.
  • A junior officer (LTJG, SWO qualified) provides day-to-day supervision and addresses admin responsibilities.
  • Length of assignment lasts approximately 3 months, at which time CCD personnel turn over with a trained replacement. Outgoing CCD personnel return to their former division to share and inculcate corrosion control best practices within their division.
The photos of CHURCHILL (provided below) illustrate why our corrosion control efforts are so important. Corrosion is one of our greatest challenges to operational readiness and significantly impacts our ability to achieve the expected service life of our ships. The good news is we’ve learned a lot over the years about how to effectively fight and control it. The bad news is there is work for us all in this fight and that certainly includes me (one team, one fight!).

During my visit to CHURCHILL, I asked BMC Pici what I needed to know that I didn’t know and what he needed me to do; after some hesitation, BMC Pici looked me in the eye and said he needed paint floats and that there weren’t any available. I was really stunned by BMC Pici’s answer. As I quickly reflected on my days in command (in Long Beach and Norfolk), paint floats were never an issue. What the hell happened? Well, I don’t know yet what happened, but I do know that Chief Pici was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT – we’re down to two (that’s right, two) paint floats at NAVSTA NORFOLK. I’m on it – RADM Dave Thomas, CNSL, and I are going to fix this as soon as we can.

I will also ensure the necessary scaffolding and staging are installed at the beginning of all CMAVs and CNO avails to give our Sailors access to hard-to-reach areas. I’ll do my part to give you the resources you need, but it’s going to take a consistent and steady effort from all hands on deck to win this fight.

Thanks again to the crews of USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL and USS LABOON for taking the time to share their best practices and show us how they get it done every day.
All the best, JCHjr


YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III said...


Happy New Year, and great post. Interestingly, I just read a story today about a new type of paint we're getting, Type V Polysiloxane. It seems to last longer, and not turn pink colored.


What strikes me from the story, however, is what Sherwin Williams says it enables ship's company to do, "Now instead of maintenance painting, sailors can clean the freeboard instead."

YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

David Marquet said...

I was doing INF and START treating inspections in the Soviet Union in 1989. At the time, everyone thought the Russians were 10' tall (except Reagan, of course).

We landed at an airfield with rows of backfire bombers. Many had flat tires and shoddy paint but the biggest impression was RUST.

Several months later the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

So...you are RIGHT to take on the corrosion problem, especially in design.

Anonymous said...

I am very happy to see that a program that I assisted in creating has come to fruition and in some ways, exceeded expectations.

The true heroes of this program are the program managers, NAVSEA engineers, and Navy Officers that shared their expertise to bring this concept to the sailors on the waterfront.

While I was Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) at US Fleet Forces Command on a rotation in Fleet Maintenance, I was tasked by my supervisor during the 2009 MEGARUST Conference held in Norfolk to be the Fleet representative for this program and bring the maintenance, engineering, and program manager community together and offer fleet level in insight to the problem. There had to be adequate representation from both NAVSEA claimants and US Fleet Forces claimants to come up with a program to tackle corrosion. I was told that I would be the fleet catalyst to get this going. As long as the Fleet had buy in, I was told, this would go places.

I remember generating the first e-mail to the professional engineers in the NAVSEA and Fleet Maintenance personnel like it was yesterday, my supervisor encouraging and mentoring me along the way. There were some ups and downs and I was sad to leave this great project because I had to move on to another assignment but I was encouraged by the fact that I did great in gathering a menagerie of professionals, both in government and private enterprise, to tackle to problem of corrosion in the Navy while at the same time stating the intent of the Fleet Maintenance Officer as well as the Fleet Commander.

Thanks for the great update Admiral! I am happy to be PMF alum on your staff!

NVYGUNZ said...


Love the update and CCAT initiative. From your post, it appears to be making headway already.

Just a suggestion, but have you ever looked at a ship being built in a shipyard (e.g. DDG)? They start out as rusty (surface rust anyway) pieces of metal. Many are sitting out in the open air throughout the yard. Some already slightly warped, etc. In my personal opinion, if we (the Navy and NAVSEA) paid a bit more attention to the basic foundation and construction of our ships, the corrosion may take longer to start and/or spread. Perhaps we wouldn't have cancer spreading secretly in our tanks, voids, bilges, etc.

Conversely, however, the shipyard did provide me (and senior crew) with very detailed information on how the paint (layers and preventive) are adhered and maintained, to include the amount of time involved, which was usually hours or days between layer. However, (inserting story here) when you leave work and see a piece of rusty steel (bulkhead for example) is pretty haze grey the next morning (and it was raining that night), you've got to believe it wasn't done quite right. Just speaking from prior experience and observations. When I challenged it, I was tactfully told to shut-up and color. Further, when you as the Sailor do the preventative or corrective corrosion control months later, you come to notice there is none of these "layers" of corrosion control preventatives (given at training) underneath the haze grey. Again, suspect work. Motto of story: Think we could use some extra quality control at the shipyard and construction levels too.

Thx again for your time and concern.


Anonymous said...

NAVYGUNZ is correct...to a point. SOME shipyards do not do a good job of preservation. Steel does sit outdoors for weeks and months, but so long as the corrosion process does not begin to pit the steel, it's not a problem. THAT starts after the steel is put into the erection process. This is done one of two ways: either the steel is blasted and coated (and it's at this point the real misery starts) and put into ready use storage or the units are put together as raw steel then blasted and coated as a unit.

Either way, if the steel has not gone through the prescribed blasting to achieve the correct surface profile and/or does not get it's correct millage of primer and paint applied under the correct environmental parameters then the steel will have bits and pieces of cancer hidden away or will not stand the stress of a harsh marine environment for the expected life span of the coating.

ADM, did you know in the marine(commercial) world, there is a "10 year" paint standard? That under this standard, the coating system needs zero maintenance for 10 years? One wonders why the Navy doesn't use this system...

More if you want it, I have LOTS of corrosion horror stories, including why corrosion control teams always need "baby DC plugs" handy when working below the water line ;)


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

Anonymous (PMF), I am very glad that the work you accomplished while a PMF on my staff resulted in a very positive impact on our Fleet. I hope that your new assignment allows you to still work on Fleet issues, but if not, when you complete your rotations, you decide on a position that keeps you working these issues and moving the ball forward because much progress remains to be made. All the best, JCHjr

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

NVYGUNZ, I had a very similar conversation about the importance of doing the upfront corrosion control work correctly with the team on USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL. Whether or not shipyard quality control is the root cause of many of our corrosion issues, effective quality control for all aspects of our ship construction and maintenance is a primary focus of VADM McCoy and me. All the best, JCHjr

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

Byron, I am always interested in reading about commercial practices and understanding their different solutions to our similar challenges - understanding that they have different variables to deal with than we do (e.g. shorter hull life). However, many of their innovations are driven out of necessity to keep costs down and maximize profits and therefore, industry has adopted methods we simply haven’t been forced to adopt as we often consider our Sailors’ labor as “free.” Please send me any material you can, I am interested in reading what you have. All the best, JCHjr

Anonymous said...

Admiral, MARAD should have all the information; the system was used on the three Cape "R" ships Rise, Ray, and Race) currently berthed at Earl Industries facility in Norfolk, and the two Cape "W" (Wrath and Washington)All five had their deck jobs done at North Florida Shipyards in the 1990's. And the most important part of the system? It's not just the paint or primer, it's weld quality and rounded edges on steel beams (paint won't adhere to the proper thickness on a sharp edge) When you combine that with strict adherence to proper profiling (after sandblasting), painting only within the correct humidity and temperture limits and with the proper mix of paint/catylizer you get a paint system less prone to breaking down.


Anonymous said...

As a commercial merchant mariner with experience on various types of ships and several companies, I can say that no matter what ship; the officers and crew are regarded as "free labor" because they are included in the company’s annual budget.
The difference between a ship that gets run down and the ones that remain cost effective is the level of effort, experience and enthusiasm that is expended by the ship's complement. It does not take long for a ship to become deficient; I have seen ships only 6 months out of delivery that were not able to take on cargo due to an incompetent crew and a company that did not properly support them. It takes longer to correct these deficiencies, but it can be done. I know because I have been part of several ships finding their way back to a profitable and continued future.
I would also like to applaud the efforts of the deck department on the USS WINSTON CHURCHILL, sounds like there is a very good group of people very interested in making their home a better place. Keep up the good work!