Rust never sleeps, but it’s very expensive

Rust never sleeps, but it’s very expensive

We’re living in a golden age for rust in the military — or a dark age, depending on the way you look at it. Commanders at all levels are more aware than they’ve ever been about the hazards and costs of corrosion, which cost DoD $22.5 billion just in 2009, according to one study. The brass is convening rust conferences, pursuing new materials and technology to help defeat it, and, in the case of the Navy, completely changing its thinking about what it means for ships. Back in the day, the Navy got sick of its ships and just threw them away, on the theory that, hey, we’ll just buy new ones! But over the past few years, the service has come to realize that it has to make all of its ships last as long as they can, which means it’s focusing on rust, hulls, tanks, voids and other unglamorous parts of it ships, to keep them around for their full service lives.

Our phriend ‘Phib has a post about this, linking to that 2009 report, and he nails it on the head: Traditionally, if you wanted to impress a general, admiral or lawmaker, you didn’t show a presentation about rust. You talked about “transformation,” “disruptive” or “game-changing” technologies, and had big diagrams that showed ships, aircraft, ground vehicles, UAVs, satellites and troops connected by lightning bolts:

Or as CDR Salamander wrote:

It isn’t sexy; I know. It isn’t as “fun” as talking about how unbuilt and untested platforms integrated through a unfunded and nondeployed “network” will “transform” all war in to rainbows and unicorns; I know. Imagine if even a small percentage of what the dreamers and social planners bleed off the main funding line was diverted to making sure we get just a little better, just a little, on the fundamentals. You know, stuff like rust.

“The total cost of corrosion for DoD is $22.5 billion, with $20.9 billion derived from maintenance records from the military services’ various databases and $1.6 billion from sources outside normal reporting. We estimated corrosion as a percentage of maintenance for DoD to be 23.0 percent. This includes both infrastructure and facilities (15.1 percent) and weapon systems/equipment (24.0 percent). The corrosion cost for infrastructure and facilities is $1.8 billion, while the corrosion cost for weapon systems and equipment is $20.7 billion.”

The Navy’s part of this seems obvious — as Sen. Jeff Sessions might say, y’got big metal boats, you put ‘em in saltwater, they’re gonna rust! So what are the other big victims around the force? Army and Marine Corps ground vehicles, according to the report; as well as Air Force aircraft and missiles and DoD “facilities and infrastructure.” So if the rest of the force begins buying into the new rust awareness movement, recovering even some of that $23 billion could go a long way under the coming decade of lean budgets.

Join the Conversation

Mr. Ewing — important Report this morning, on a topic that you and I have discussed a number of times. Perhaps one additional comment/question: are the services buying cheap stuff (junk)? True, climates and weather can be tough, with constant demands and extremes, but is it important to raise the question about how good is this stuff in the first place?

Sir — I think the military-industrial complex would bristle at the implication that DoD buys anything but the hottest, latest, bestest, most wham-o-dyne stuff. True, development issues mean weapons and equipment take longer and cost more to develop, but by the time they’re fielded, the consensus seems to be that they’re usually of high quality. The corrosion problems tend to take place once the stuff — ships, vehicles, aircraft, weapons — are in the fleet. The services care less about, and spend less on, maintaining older platforms they already have, under the standard government Robbing-Peter-To-Pay-Paul Doctrine. Navy officials, for example, have told Congress that they take deliberate risks by under-funding maintenance for ships and aircraft, because they’ve got to pay for their current operations and other priorities. Judging from this 2009 corrosion report, it appears the other services have similar philosophies.

Nothing beats a four day Navy course on aircraft corrosion control.

As a Navy vet and Naval Aviation Maintainer I remember the days when Corrosion Control and Prevention was a religion. If you opened a panel or performed maintenance of any type you were doing a corrosion and material condition inspection at the same time. We had skilled techs that were trained to combat corrosion and ensure our aircraft were always in the best condition possible. Sure we had problems but we always seemed to come up with a successful fix for the problem. I worked Hornets for years, true they have their own set of issues but it was still the same types of corrosion that occurred on other air platforms. So now I ask, “What happened?” We should have been learning as we went and applying what we know as we go. There are new aircraft systems that have an impact on the degree of repairs that can be addressed in the fleet. But to simple turn a blind eye to billions of dollars worth of damage and deterioration because to falls in the category of too hard or the OEM doesn’t have a fix is unacceptable.

I taught that very same course at NAMTRADET 1039, NAS Cecil Field. Thanks for the good words.

Commanders at all levels must build time into their unit’s schedule for equipment maintainence, which includes corrosion control. This is especially true for the Guard and Reserve.

Surface Navy, retired 2003. Late nineties it was all about less manpower on the ships, more duty sections and contracting out anything that could be while in port. Rust control, meals, even minimum fire party in port. Hey, just call the fire dept. Coming back to bite them now.

I remember how hard it was to keep up with rust on our vehicles; I can’t imagine what it must be like to deal with metal and seawater.

Not the answer to the entire problem but a nice tool in the fight…Envelop Protective Covers, the world leader in anti-corrosive cover technology.

Retired USAF Communications Tech: one question and one answer only.
Graphene!!!!!!!!!!! Graphene!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Graphene???????????
Please provide an “Absolutely” LOGICAL and Research oriented response

Dear Friends,
This survey entitled “Best Practices to Protect Vehicles/Equipment from Chloride Deicers” is being undertaken by the Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, and is part of work being sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the USDOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

We appreciate your help in forwarding this survey link to people you know are knowledgeable on this topic.
The survey link is here: https://​www​.surveymonkey​.com/​s​/​Z​L​7​7​RPB


Also at 1039 Dave B Electrical Course


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.