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.

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