By Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan Keyes, 402nd AFSBn-KuwaitDecember 24, 2014
KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait -- A common problem found in the marine field, especially in warm climates, is unwanted marine growth stuck to the underside of a vessel.
The cumulative effects of barnacle growth and slime can morph into a shaggy and shell-laden mess on a propeller, which can cut down its efficiency by 10 percent. It's like spinning your wheels and going nowhere, while burning valuable fuel.
The Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait's Watercraft Equipment Site--Kuwait, performs care of supplies in storage and maintenance for 36 Army Prepositioned Stock-5 Watercraft Site vessels that are no strangers to having marine growth on their hulls.
All of the Landing Craft Utility watercraft at WES-K are stored in the water and after several years, excessive marine growth and other fouling organisms begin to grow on the hull, propellers, shafts, and keel coolers. The keel coolers are especially important because they remove heat from the engines. Removing this unwanted insulation allows for a greater heat exchange between the engines and the sea water.
Periodically, these vessels require underwater hull cleanings. The process consists of using special underwater pressure washers and a lot of manual scraping. In the past, these hull cleanings were accomplished by contracted divers and the cost was $4,200 per vessel. Sgt. 1st Class Steven Mance, the WES-K noncommissioned officer in charge, and I took a look at the process. We asked the U.S. Army Dive team at Kuwait Naval Base for their assistance.
So far this year, Army divers have performed underwater hull cleanings on six LCUs. Not only has it provided the Army dive team with real world training and saved the Army $25,200, but it showcased the joint intra-agency collaboration between Army watercraft transporters and the Army Dive team.