U.S. Navy fuel tank repairs in Yokose, Japan

*Base security measures prohibit sharing actual images from this job. The above image depicts the nature of our work but is not from the U.S. Navy DFSP in Yokose, Japan.

The fuel farms at Defense Fuel Support Points (DFSPs) hold essential fuel supplies for the U.S. Navy. During an assessment of one of the ten fuel tanks at the DFSP in Yokose, Japan, the inspection revealed the interior of tank Y7 showed signs of wear and age. To return the JP-5 jet fuel tank to full functionality, the base needed an experienced coating contractor.

Scope of the job

To complete this overseas fuel tank interior recoating job, Thomas Industrial Coatings sent a six-man crew, all of whom underwent rigorous background checks to be allowed on the base. Each worker also came prepared with SSPC C-14 Marine Plural Component Spray Operator and SSPC Coating Application Specialist certifications.

The tank was 280 feet in diameter, located 40 feet underground and consisted of 142,000 square feet of steel. The Thomas Industrial Coatings crew on-base was tasked with:

  • Abrasive blasting of the tank interior to SSPC SP-10, Near-White Blast Cleaning
  • Application of two coats of PolySpec Thiokol, a polysulfide novolac epoxy
  • Plural component application at 24 to 30 millimeters thickness

All coatings conformed to United Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS) 099713.15, Low VOC Polysulfide Interior Coating of Welded Steel Petroleum Fuel Tanks. The coating system needed to meet the base GC’s quality control standards as well as the Navy’s stringent quality assurances.

During the project, the crew used scaffolding to safely access all surface areas of the tank. To maintain humidity below 55% and an 18-degree difference between dew point and steel temperature, equipment for dehumidification, heating, cooling and air movement was also employed. This ensured the steel didn’t rust after abrasive blasting and the coatings cured properly.

The coating system for the jet fuel tank should provide corrosion protection for the next 30 years.

Addressing a common pitting problem

In fuel tanks, small amounts of water often infiltrate the tank and sink to the bottom. There, the water sits on the floor of the tank and eventually creates deep pits, holes and corrosion. This was the case with DFSP Yokose’s tank Y7: Even though the majority of the existing coating was in decent condition, the pitting on the floor of the tank necessitated a recoating.

It’s inevitable for amounts of water to get into the fuel tank. But to prevent this problem from causing significant damage in the future, we sought a solution through the coating system.

The PolySpec Thiokol coating is nearly twice as thick as the previous system and is a 100% liner coating (meaning it is tested for pin holes that would have caused premature failure). With Thomas Industrial Coatings’ recommended coating system, the risk of deep pits, holes and corrosion is reduced significantly.

Maximum preparedness for overseas job

Performing a tank interior coating job is inherently complex, and performing it overseas adds another layer of logistics. Because this job took place in Japan, the team needed to prepare and ship every single piece of equipment well ahead of schedule. (The lead time to ship anything from the U.S. to Japan is five to six weeks.)

Replacement parts, extra materials and repair tools also need to arrive in Yokose. In the U.S., an extra abrasive blast pot or replacement pair of safety glasses could be easily bought off-site or shipped overnight. But with different equipment availability and safety standards, the crew couldn’t rely on vendors in Japan. So the team went into preparation overdrive: Every industrial vacuum, long-reach forklift and pair of gloves came with extras and repair parts, ensuring the team had everything they needed to successfully complete the job on schedule.

Additionally, the 15-hour time difference between Yokose and the Thomas Industrial Coatings shop in Pevely, Missouri required preparedness on communication methods. The teams overseas and stateside took advantage of the few hours each day in which they could discuss the project status over the phone and relied on email to communicate quickly.

Even with the added work that went into prepping for this overseas coating job, the preparedness paid off and the job went as we had planned.

A trusted partner for storage tank coating jobs

Thanks to the hard work of the crew, the JP-5 jet fuel tank for DFSB Yokose will safely hold fuel for the Navy for years to come. And this coating project is just one of many we’ve completed for storage tanks, from fuel tanks for the Department of Defense to water towers in our own backyard.

If you’re ready to hire an experienced, safety-minded contractor for a storage tank coating project, request a bid now to get started. Or read our guide on what to look for when hiring an industrial painter to help you make this critical decision.

MacDill Air Force Base fuel pipeline repairs

*Base security measures prohibit sharing actual images from this job. The above image depicts the nature of our work but is not from MacDill Air Force Base.

Maintaining the fuel supply networks at any U.S. Air Force installation is an important job, but maintaining the system at a key air refueling base is especially critical.

Such is the case at MacDill Air Force Base, a sprawling complex on the Interbay Peninsula near Tampa, FL. That’s where the Air Force’s 6th Air Mobility Wing carries out its mission of refueling tactical fighters and bombers in-flight using KC-135R Stratotankers.

That mission depends on a 3.85-mile pipeline network connecting a nearby fuel refinery to on-base tank farms. Thomas Industrial Coatings was selected in to complete abrasive blasting, surface preparation and coating application of the pipeline.

Scope of the job

The Thomas crew on-base was tasked with completing a surface preparation and coating job consisting of:

  • Abrasive blasting of the pipeline to SSPC SP-10, Near White Blast Cleaning.
  • Application of zinc-rich epoxy Formula 159 primer.
  • Application of epoxy Formula 152 intermediate coat.
  • Application of high-solids polyurethane topcoat meeting MIL-PRF-85285D-TYPE 2 CLASS H.

All coatings conformed to the MIL-STD for welded steel structures found in MIL SPEC 09 97 13.27.

In total, our crews blasted and coated the 43,525 square feet of pipeline under the watchful eye of environmental inspectors and military security personnel.

Environmental and security concerns

As is the case with any military coating project, strict environmental protection procedures were in place on this job. That included daily inspections by a third-party inspector and a government auditor responsible for shadowing the third-party inspector. It was necessary because the military considers blasting materials and coatings as hazardous materials. Spills must be avoided at all costs.

In addition, much of the pipeline travels over grassy areas near Tampa Bay. Any leaching of paint or leaks from the pipeline could result in a wide-reaching environmental crisis.

That’s not to mention the level of security maintained on-base. While some portions of the pipeline traverse common areas where Airmen, civilian staff and contractors can roam somewhat freely, other parts are located on the flight line—the most secure area of any Air Force base. No crew members entered or left the flight line without base security recording it.

Innovation on the job

In addition to delivering a quality surface prep and coating job for the MacDill Air Force Base fuel system, we improved on an existing pipeline containment method.

The Thomas crew found recycled containment shelters that were placed over pipeline sections to help contain abrasive blast materials. Think of them like portable car ports with tarps around the sides. The crew thought it would be more efficient to roll the shelter along the pipeline instead of periodically picking it up and placing it back down, so the crew attached wheels to its frame.

It worked beautifully, so it’s sure to become a key environmental protection method on future pipeline projects.

Partnership with Thomas

With a strong résumé of pipeline work in the military, industrial and municipal sectors, Thomas Industrial Coatings is a leading nationwide provider of industrial maintenance coating services. Our experienced crews demonstrate their ability to deliver quality work safely every day.

If you’re committed to hiring a coating contractor that understands the importance of protecting critical industrial assets, we’re the right fit. To get started on your next coating project, request a bid. If you’re still researching, our guide on what to look for when hiring an industrial painter is a great resource.

Over Yonder Cay wind turbine coating repairs

Over Yonder Cay is an exclusive private island nestled among the remote islands and islets of the Exumas island chain in the Bahamas. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the island is sustainably powered by three wind turbines and a 1.5-acre solar field.

Clearly, protecting the renewable power generation capacity is a top priority.

A two-man crew from Thomas Industrial Coatings enjoyed stunning views of the Caribbean, but it was no vacation. Instead, they spent three weeks hanging in a basket attached to a cable anchored to the tops of the wind turbines—all while being lashed by stiff ocean winds.

Specs of the job

This wasn’t a huge job in terms of square footage, but it was complicated. The Thomas crew’s assignment was surface preparation and coating the stems of three 120-foot wind turbines. The stems were subject to salt spray from the nearby ocean, which led to the formation of spot corrosion. The work included:

  • Elimination of spot corrosion using power tools to SSPC – SP11 (Bare Metal Cleanliness).
  • Application of Sherwin-Williams Macropoxy 646 primer.
  • Application of Sherwin-Williams Macropoxy 646 intermediate coat.
  • Application of Sherwin-Williams Sher-Loxane 800 polysiloxane topcoat.

Safety is paramount

Safety is one of Thomas Industrial Coatings’ hallmarks, and it was a huge factor on Over Yonder Cay. Working while strapped into a harness and suspended in a small basket at height adds a whole new dimension to any industrial coating project.

First and foremost, each wind turbine was locked during the crew’s work. Working with massive blades still turning would have been too dangerous.

Second, the crew members worked in shifts. One was suspended in the basket while the other remained perched atop the turbine to ensure the cable holding the basket remained securely anchored. As a failsafe, the worker in the basket was equipped with a Miller SafEscape fall protection system.

Finally, the crew added a secondary tether to keep the work basket secured to the turbine’s stems. Without it, strong winds would toss the basket around, making work extremely dangerous.

Wind turbine coating experts

Whether on a massive wind farm in the Great Plains or a handful of turbines serving a private Caribbean island, Thomas Industrial Coatings has the experience necessary to complete these critical maintenance jobs safely.

Thanks to the crew’s hard work, the three wind turbines supplying Over Yonder Cay’s electricity are once again ready to stand up to their severe service environment.

Are your turbines due for a new coating? Request a bid now to get started, or read our guide on what to look for when hiring an industrial painter to see whether we’re the right fit for your next turbine coating project.

Naval Station Mayport fuel system repairs

Naval Station Mayport is a strategically-located seaport and airport at the mouth of the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, FL. The installation is home to the U.S. Navy’s 4th Fleet.

To keep the sea and air operations war-ready, the base relies on a fuel pipeline that runs from a seaside unloading pier to a network of fuel storage tanks.

When Thomas Industrial Coatings was chosen to abrasive blast and coat the pipeline, instructions from the Navy were clear: Do a flawless job, and don’t spill anything.

Pipeline project specs

Mayport’s pipeline stretches more than a mile, starting at sea and heading inland to the storage tanks that keep the base supplied with both diesel and jet fuel to support air and sea operations at Mayport.

Thomas dispatched a crew of seven to complete the coating project that consisted of:

  • Abrasive blasting of the pipeline to SSPC SP 10 – Near White Metal Blast.
  • Spray application of Mobile Paints MIL-DTL-24441 Type III zinc epoxy primer inside of containment.
  • Brush and roller application of Mobile Paints MIL-DTL-24441 Type IV epoxy polyamide intermediate coat outside of containment.
  • Brush and roller application of Mobile Paints MIL-PRF-85285 Type 2 urethane topcoat outside of containment.

In total, the Thomas crew prepared and coated 20,000 square feet of pipeline, some of which runs above sandy beaches. Beaches are at elevated risk of negative environmental impacts in the event of a fuel or oil spill, including damage to plant and animal life on land and at sea. That risk figured prominently in how the crew completed its work.

Extreme caution from start to finish

U.S. Navy environmental personnel kept close watch over the project from the beginning. Their commitment to protecting the surrounding natural environment meant the crew had to abide by some of the most stringent environmental regulations they’d ever seen.

Environmental protection measures implemented on-site included:

  • The ground beneath blasting and painting work was covered at all times.
  • The Navy considers all abrasives, paint flecks and new paint as hazardous materials (HAZMAT), so the waste disposal and cleanup regimen was extremely diligent.
  • Navy inspectors visited the work site daily, so environmental protection measures had to be in top shape every day for months on end.

In addition, the crew faced added pressure knowing the pipeline would not be shut down while they worked. Navy bases don’t take days off, so the pipeline had to be kept live at all times.

Critical assets kept in ship shape

Thanks to the hard work of the Thomas Industrial Coatings crew, the fuel line serving sea and air operations at Naval Station Mayport remains in pristine condition, standing up to the harsh seaside environment and the nonstop needs of the Navy.

Our work can’t hold a candle to theirs, but nonetheless Thomas Industrial Coatings is truly proud to have completed several military coating projects that have helped the armed services in their critical missions.

Thomas treats every pipeline job like it’s for the Navy, assuring safety and diligence every step of the way. Request a bid to start discussing your next project.

Eads Bridge Rehabilitation

The lead abatement, surface preparation and painting of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri lasted nearly four years and earned Thomas Industrial Coatings an SSPC award for completing a complex project.

Abatement, preparation and coating

Opened on July 4, 1874, the Eads Bridge was the first of its kind to be made of true steel in the U.S. and was a literal gateway to the west. The bridge is still in use today, with a road deck and pedestrian walkway set above a light rail system. 

Thomas Industrial Coatings began work on a rehabilitation of the bridge in July 2012. The first hurdle was to provide a working platform for the team of painters to access all parts of the bridge. The platform was also utilized by steel workers to execute repairs and install new steel members. Safespan decking was installed below the track system and also under the bridge’s famous archways. To install the platforms, barges ferried the deck materials to spud barges staged with 120-foot man lifts used to aid assembly. The decking followed the trajectory of the bridge in two different layers to provide a stable work area to stage equipment.

Containing the bridge provided another challenge. Each span was divided into 42 to 45 sections and three to four sections were contained at one time. Swing stages and basket hoists were used to install a SSPC-Guide 6, Class One containment. A 60,000 CFM dust collector was used to provide the proper ventilation. The tarps for the containment were hoisted from the spud barges to the Safespan platform. Because this was a lead abatement project, it was significantly important to install secure containments to ensure the safety of the workers of all trades, as well the general public and the environment.

The abrasive blasting posed several challenges, some of which were the most difficult ever encountered by Thomas Industrial Coatings’ team members. This was the first time the bridge was taken down to bare metal. In most sections, as many as nine coats of paint had to be removed. The scope of work called for a SP-10 near white metal blast. The composition of round piping, multiple bolts patterns, and x-braces created many significant access issues throughout the project. Swing stages, pick and cable, and climbing were used as a means to access the steel from the work platform.   

A three-part coating system of zinc, epoxy and siloxane was chosen as the paint to be applied to the bridge. Carboline was the company chosen as paint vendor. A system of Carbozinc 859 Primer, Carboguard 888, and Carboxane 2000 was used. The project required 8,600 gallons of paint. 

As with any project in the Midwest, weather played a major role. Winds moving up and down the river made it difficult to maintain containments. Rising river levels during spring and winter floods at times caused the demobilization of the construction yard, disrupting progress for the entire project.

Thomas Industrial Coatings concluded its portion of the project in May 2016.

Pride in the project

Thomas Industrial Coatings is proud to have worked on a project of this complexity and significance, and we’re especially proud that we were able to work together with other contractors to complete our part of the job without having to stop trains from shuttling thousands of commuters, students and tourists across the Mississippi River each day.

Thomas Industrial Coatings was recognized for its work on this project, winning the SSPC’s George Campbell Award for completing a difficult or complex industrial coatings project.

Department of Defense Projects

Thomas Industrial Coatings has completed a wide range of projects for all five branches of the United States Armed Forces which include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. We have worked at over forty different bases across the continental US in the last 17 years and are beginning to stretch beyond the continental U.S. to island bases in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. The scope of work completed includes fuel tank recoating projects, pipeline repair projects both above and below ground, and other fuel system upgrades. These projects are in support of the government’s directive to be “Mission Ready.”

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