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

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Bilge and Tank Maintenance Platform

A modified remotely operated machine will save labor costs and reduce hazardous shipyard worker conditions associated with in performing surface maintenance on bilges and tanks. International Climbing Machines photo


The Navy Metalworking Center (NMC) is working with Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), International Climbing Machines, NAVSEA 04, NAVSEA 05, and the other naval shipyards on a solution that will save money and improve worker safety.


Performing surface maintenance on submarine and aircraft carrier bilges and tanks is often done in hazardous environments, exposing workers to multiple safety hazards. In addition to challenges posed by potentially toxic atmospheres, some of the surfaces are physically inaccessible to the average shipyard worker. In order to reach these locations, shipyards must remove a significant amount of piping or equipment, causing additional work and cost. This project is being funded by the NAVSEA Paint Center of Excellence.

Technical Approach

The project will modify an existing, remotely operated crawler to perform a wide variety of inspection, de-coating, and preservation tasks in hazardous or inaccessible shipboard areas.


Use of a remotely operated crawler can reduce labor and personnel exposure by 80 percent and can eliminate the labor needed to remove interference to allow human access to the surfaces to be maintained. Total five-year cost savings from the use of this system on two Moored Training Ships maintained by NNSY is expected to be $2.67 million.


The modified crawler will be implemented at NNSY in the spring of 2014.




Kurt Doehnert


Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
Norfolk Naval Shipyard
International Climbing Machines