March 6, 2013 -- By Jim Katzaman, MCSC Corporate Communications
The Marine Corps started ramping up an under-funded corrosion prevention program more than 20 years ago, long before the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, where Congress provided funding and directed the Department of Defense to develop a long-term corrosion strategy. That allowed the Corps to act quickly and take advantage of the Congressional mandate.
In 2004, with Congressional funding, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Corrosion Prevention and Control, or CPAC, officials raised the corrosion prevention program to a new level. That same year, they set up a formal corrosion inspection and reporting process that provided accurate and repeatable results. This led to the development of the CPAC Corrosion Assessment Checklist. The CAC contains standardized data collection elements as well as the CPAC Program Management Database. This corrosion data repository and reporting tool tracks the status of each asset throughout its life cycle.
"By assessing corrosion in this manner, we got a handle on the problem," said Matthew Koch, product manager for CPAC. He works alongside Bernard Friend, a retired Marine Corps master gunnery sergeant who serves as the CPAC program operations and maintenance manager. He oversees all support tasking related to fielded Corrosion Service Team and Mobile Corrosion Repair Facility operations.
According to Friend, the CAC divides equipment into five corrosion categories: Category 1 is the best condition; Cat 5 is the worst. This management tool has led to cost reduction through improvements in how the CPAC Program Office can identify, correct and maintain equipment in respect to corrosion requirements. The CAC is used to locate problem areas on equipment, identify component failure trends, determine causes of these problems, identify candidates for induction into a corrosion repair facility for maintenance, and assist in finding effective solutions to help counter the negative impact on equipment life cycles.
Koch said the Marine Corps CPAC program is far-reaching and multi-faceted. At each base and Reserve location, it combines a comprehensive maintenance program, a system using highly trained contract labor and quality-assurance protocols with local monitoring; controlled humidity protection systems for its artillery, tanks and armored vehicles; the use of protective covers for everything from Assault Amphibious Vehicles to generators and wheeled vehicles; and automated vehicle wash-down systems that remove salt residue, mud and other contaminants that corrode equipment.
“The CPAC Program is realistic in our goals,” Koch said. “While we realize a corrosion-free ground fleet is not practical, we strive to reduce the maintenance costs and burdens it causes to the Marines.”
The Marine Corps is committed to protecting as much equipment as possible through its controlled humidity protection initiative, Koch added. Sheltering equipment at a relative humidity below 50 percent eliminates rust, mildew, mold and moisture. In 2005, the CPAC Office began to erect dehumidification shelters on all Marine Corps bases. In particular, Camp Lejeune, N.C., has 12 dehumidification structures owned by the 10th Marine Regiment with the sole purpose of housing its Lightweight 155 mm Howitzer.
“The regiment’s biggest expense is its guns,” Friend said, “so the shelters are vital.”
The 2nd Tank Battalion benefits from a different type of dehumidification provided by three operational protection lines. The OP lines provide a stabilized environment in which their A1 Abrams tanks’ optics and electronics are protected. Friend said the resultant benefit of the controlled humidity protection initiative is improved readiness. CHP systems reduce the need for corrective maintenance, increase equipment usability and safety – resulting in increased opportunity for training and operations – and reduce the overall total cost of equipment ownership to the Marine Corps.
According to Koch, CHP and the other initiatives are working well for the CPAC program, a system with a foundation built on how they identify, correct and maintain equipment.
“It’s a system that has been emulated to some degree by the Army,” said Mr. Jim Smerchansky, deputy commander for System Engineering, Interoperability, Architectures and Technology. “It’s also currently being considered by the Department of the Navy Corrosion Executive as an effective approach to maintain and protect Navy ground equipment assets.”
“Without this program Marine Corps equipment would experience reduced readiness and increased maintenance costs,” said Dr. John Burrow, MCSC’s executive director. “It is an extremely important program and our CPAC team does an outstanding job.”