Advanced Metalworking Solutions for
Naval Systems that Go in Harm's Way

Improved Abrasive Technology

Using improved abrasive technology in support of VCS construction could lead to significant manufacturing cost savings. EB photo


The objective of this Navy Metalworking Center project is to ensure industry can manufacture abrasives with improved properties, including increased material removal rates and increased abrasive life, while meeting cleanliness and detrimental material requirements associated with nuclear shipbuilding.


Recent advancements in abrasive technologies have greatly improved productivity in many industries, but these advancements cannot be easily transferred to nuclear shipbuilding due to stringent regulation and control of support material to mitigate risk associated with cleanliness and detrimental material introduction. Significant savings associated with decreased labor, improved abrasive life, and reduced fatigue and injury due to less vibration are all possible if improved abrasives can be implemented during construction of VIRGINIA Class submarine (VCS) hulls.

Technical Approach

The Integrated Project Team will establish requirements, identify candidate abrasives for the selected applications, perform technical evaluations, work with the manufacturers to perform modifications if necessary, and conduct production evaluations of the final selected abrasives to verify project metrics are being met.


Improved abrasive technologies that will allow shipbuilders to remove material faster, with less fatigue, fewer injuries, improved hygienic conditions, and will provide a cost savings to the VCS Program, will occur as a result of this project. Current cost savings are estimated to be $700K per hull, which includes a 7.5 percent labor reduction in operations utilizing improved abrasives at General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB). Additional benefits may be realized for overhaul activities.


Implementation will be organized through the Tool Crib at GDEB in support of SSN 784. The results will initially be implemented as a pilot program in late 2013 for a six-month period to minimize potential impact on shipbuilding activities should problems arise. If the pilot program is successful, then full implementation will occur. It is expected that all baseline abrasives on-hand will be consumed prior to full implementation of the advanced abrasives.




Charles McNamara
Asst. Program Manager for Virginia Class Development and Modernization
Naval Sea Systems Command, PMS 450D


General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division
PMS 450 Virginia Class Program Office