When a U.S. Navy submarine comes to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) to be renovated and updated, it gets a total overhaul inside and out right down to the smallest detail. “Doors and the like can be taken off the ship and brought into our shops, but many other surfaces cannot, so we need a stripper that we can use safely within confined areas that won’t contaminate the sub,” says Foreman of Paint Shop 71 Bob Moors.
“We have to use chemical strippers rather than mechanical methods, such as sanding, because of the dust they produce. The internal environment of a sub –
especially instrumentation – is extremely sensitive to dust particles that result from sanding and scraping so a chemical stripper is extremely important,” Moors says. “In the past we had no choice but to use a harsher methylene chloride product. It worked well but was classified as a Volatile Hazardous Air Pollutant which means it’s bad for the environment. It also required extensive controls (for example: ventilation and respirators) to prevent worker exposure,” he explains. “The major advantage of the soy-based stripper is that it can be used almost any place on the ship because the health risks are reduced and it’s environmentally friendly.”