Recently, a novel coating developed by researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for the exterior topsides of Navy surface ships went beyond small area testing to covering the entire freeboard of an amphibious assault ship. Until April of 2017, NRL’s 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.
“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.”
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.
If the application on the USS Essex performs as expected, Sailors will be empowered with an advanced coating technology that is robust, easy to use, and will yield significant cost avoidance.