USS La Jolla

Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) and Penn State University have developed a new tank cleaning tool modification which aims to save on the time and manpower required for the task.

The new submarine oil storage tank cleaning tool replaces the existing manual process of employing pressure washers and solvents.

The prototype tool, which can be remotely monitored, sprays water at 20,000psi, delivering 20gal per minute.

Its aim is to save time and ensuring a safe and cost-effective method of cleaning and preparing oil tankers for structural repair, modifications, and preservation.

"We completed this tank in ten days. The typical tank takes about 20 days. So you’re shaving off a lot of time."

The new tool was tested on the US Navy’s nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS La Jolla (SSN-701) during its initial phase.

It is set to be incorporated on USS Helena (SSN-725) during its dry-docking continuous maintenance availability (DCMAV) which was made available earlier this month.

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NNSY blasting and painting shop trades manager George Reed said: "We cut man hours out of the tank cleaning evolution on the Helena project and took the workers out of the tank as much as possible, which not only reduced cost but also increased the safety of our personnel."

NNSY painter supervisor Jonathan Simmons added: "We completed this tank in ten days. The typical tank takes about 20 days. So you’re shaving off a lot of time, which helps get the boat back to the fleet."

Penn State’s Applied Research Lab fabricated the magnetic base prototype and accessories, however it is set to be modified and manufactured by NNSY in the future.

A team of painting / blasting experts will be employed to instruct the public shipyards in efficient use of the tool.

For NNSY, the painting / blasting shop will employ the new cleaning method for the USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740) availability and USS Boise (SSN-764) later this year.

Image: The nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS La Jolla (SSN 701). Photo: courtesy of U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Corwin Colbert.