Earl Industries, LLC

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Supporting Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) Drydockings: 21 Drydockings In Fifteen Years


In the early 1990′s the change in environmental regulations forced NNSY and other shipyards to change the way exterior preservation projects were performed. Normally the most extensive exterior preservation jobs took place when the vessels were in drydock. United Coating’s ability to adapt to changing requirements has made us the preferred choice of NNSY.

United Coatings (UCC) accomplished the first major drydock preservation job at NNSY performed under the stricter regulations. In 1992 UCC abrasive blasted and recoated the exterior hull of the USS Nassau (LHA-4) from the keel to the flight deck. UCC engineered a containment system that allowed sections of the vessel to be contained for abrasive blasting and coating while other areas were able to undergo structural work and repairs by NNSY without interference. Negative ventilation was utilized to ensure visibility in these areas. Subsequent projects accomplished in this manner were the USS LaSalle (AGF-3), USS Spear (AS-36), USS Cable (AS-40), USS Land (AS-39) and USS Mt. Whitney (LCC-20).

In the late 1990′s the US Navy urged the industry to investigate alternate surface preparation methods which aimed to eliminate the need to dispose of hundreds of tons of spent abrasive when accomplishing hull preservation. UCC’s initial investment of $5,000,000.00 allowed us to procure and develop equipment that could remove coatings utilizing ultra high pressure (UHP) water. This allowed surface preparation to commence earlier in the availability since the heavy duty containment tarps were no longer required. Utilizing our robotic units permitted other trades to work along side UCC crews while surface preparation was being performed. The USS Nassau’s (LHA-4) hull was preserved in this manner in 2001.

When the need arose in the early 2000′s to reduce drydocking durations, UCC was able to design a more effective and innovative approach to surface preparation which utilized both UHP hydroblasting and abrasive blasting. While the flat hull areas could be prepared with robotic UHP units, the complex structural areas such as catwalks, undersides of aircraft elevators and stern gates could be prepared much faster and efficiently utilizing grit. UCC’s containment system allowed the grit blasting to be segregated from the UHP hyroblasting while performing both simultaneously. This method has been successfully employed on the USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Saipan (LHA-2), USS Washington (CVN-73), USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and the USS Roosevelt (CVN-71). This new approach not only reduced the drydock durations, but also resulted in a cost savings of approximately $1.50/sq. ft. to the government.

UCC has proven to be the only contractor who can mobilize equipment and personnel to prepare an exterior hull with either water, grit or a combination of both



In 2005, Earl Industries, LLC and it coatings division United Coatings was contracted to perform a steel repair and de-leading project, for the U.S. Army at the Fort Monroe – Hampton Roads Harbor Defense Base. The job was to remove all existing coatings from two, 3-inch WW II, rapid fire guns found in Battery Irwin, repair all deteriorated surfaces, and apply three coats of paint to preserve it for many years to come. The existing lead based paint (LBP) and other heavy metal coatings found on the structures; were in excess of 15% by weight, deeming them as extremely hazardous. The environmental regulations and restrictions for the removal of the existing coatings were extensive.

2 – 3 Inch Guns Description: Installed for shore protection from WW II enemy ships and landing crafts.

Lead Removal Process for the Steel Structure: During and prior to the installation of the shore battery guns; lead based coatings were widely used as a steel structure preservative. Lead is a systemic poison that can still be found on metal structures erected prior to 1970’s. The deleading process was performed by trained personnel following OSHA, SSPC & EPA guidelines for the protection of personnel and the environment.

Blast – Abrasive blasting of the steel structure with steel shot, to an SSPC-SP10 (Full Removal) was required.
Environmental Controls – A steel frame was built around the gun emplacement, and type B1-Air Impenetrable plastic sheeting was attached to the structure. A plastic ground cloth was placed under the gun mount to capture the spent abrasive and debris. A double sealable flap section was installed on the containment for and entrance. This double sealable section also provides a separation from the clean and dirty or lead contaminated side of the containment. A 5,000 cfm dust collector with particulate filters was incorporated into the containment on order to capture particulate emissions. As a qualified contractor United Coatings ensured that the lead based paint (LBP) removal process utilized, conformed to the requirements of the SSPC-QP2 (Industrial Hazardous Paint Removal Process). Spent abrasive and removed debris were vacuumed from the blast area with a HEPA filtered vacuum system, and placed in sealed drums. The drums were labeled I.A.W. DOT regulations for disposal by the base environmental facility. Barricades were erected at the work site to prevent uncontrolled access to the work area.

Steel Structure Re-construction: After the initial abrasive blast and decontamination of the shore battery; Earl Industries, LLC’s steel fabricators removed the corroded and deteriorated gun base plates and reinstalled newly fabricated stainless steel diamond plate, matching the original design.

Steel Structure Re-coating: The newly installed steel structure and new weld areas were blasted to provide the required anchor profile for coatings adhesion. The remaining areas were re-blasted in order to ensure that an SSPC-SP10 surface condition was still present. Two (2) coats of 100% solids epoxy paint were applied to each of the units as a base coat for the corrosion protection properties needed for the steel structures. When the base coats were properly cure one (1) coat of Army Green Polyurethane was applied as a protective topcoat.

Personal Protective Equipment and Decontamination System: Personnel assigned to this project were provided with the OSHA required lead worker training and medical monitoring. The abrasive blasters and painters were provided with air supplied Grade “D” breathing air and disposable protective outer garments. An Eagle filtered decontamination unit was provided and utilized for washing and showering; as required by the SSPC-QP2, OSHA lead worker requirements and the United Coatings Lead Worker Program for Removal of Hazardous Paint. Air Monitoring was conducted to ensure that contamination of Lead particulate remained below the required action level of 30 mg/m3. All federal, state and local requirements were followed regarding controls and disposal for Lead and Hazardous materials.

OSHA Lead Worker Standards: SSPC C-3 Supervisor/ Competent Person ensured standard, personnel protection, air and medical monitoring was followed There was a negative rise in Blood lead levels or ZPP, in any on site worker throughout the duration of the de-leading project.

United Coatings followed the OSHA, SSPC De-leading standards and its Best Management Practices.

Of the seven Batteries located at Fort Monroe, Battery Irwin was the only one slated for restoration at the time of this contract. A BRAC commission inspection conducted in 2006, noted that the others were in various states of deterioration, with some of them badly in need of steel repair and complete re-preservation. Perhaps future contracts to conduct badly needed repairs are just over the horizon.



In 2004, United Coatings was contracted to encapsulate the interior structure of a large US postal warehouse. This warehouse had been exposed to Anthrax contamination with state department contract personnel involved.¹
The internal structure had been decontaminated by an Environmental Firm and a permanent wall, ceiling and floor coating was specified to completely seal the internal structure, and make the structure impermeable to Acids, Alkalis, and Chemicals & Toxins. The facility will have the capability to completely decontaminate the internal structure without damaging the applied coatings.

Several Coatings were considered, to include fiberglass sheeting. United Coatings recommended specialty coatings from TNEMEC Company that would meet the requirements of the project. The specialty coatings were 100% solids epoxy with a very low Volatile Organic Compounds.

The coating selected for this project were innovative, and specifically designed to meet the requirements of this project. Specialized training and equipment was provided for the United Coatings technical applicators.


Warehouse Floor: 50,000 Square feet of area.
Coatings applied: 956 gallons.

Containment Area Floor: 11,000 Square feet area.
Coatings applied: 367 gallons.

Walls & Ceiling, Containment Areas: 41,000 Square feet of area.
Coatings applied: 1,395 gallons.

Warehouse Walls, Ceilings & Office Areas: 142,000 Square Feet of area.
Coatings applied: 2,242 gallons.

Total square feet of area coated: 244,000 sq/ft.

Total gallons of coatings applied: 4,406 gallons.

Environmental and Personal Protection:

Ventilation: Several COPPUS ventilation units were utilized to extract paint vapors and odors to the exterior of the warehouse. COPPUS supplied air ventilation were utilized to provide six clean air exchanges during paint operations and during paint drying (curing) time.

Air Monitoring: Air monitoring was conducted during spray painting operation to ensure that LEL and Oxygen levels remained within the safe required levels.

Personal Protective Equipment and Training: Chemical protective outer garments and respiratory protection was utilized during spray painting operations.
Personnel assigned to the project were trained in the hazards involved and in the application of the specialized coatings being applied.

Decontamination of Coatings Surfaces: A complete 100% solids, epoxy coatings system with a topcoat, provides a seamless surface which can be cleaned with decontamination products and pressurized hot water.

The coatings system specified and applied by United Coatings will provide many years of continuing biological and hazardous material protection to the facility and its employees, and prevent further actions that may threaten the continuing use of the facility.

¹U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, “Decontamination of Sterling Mail Facility” December 16, 2002



In 1999, United Coatings was contracted to perform a de-leading project, for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA). The Hangar was a U.S Air Force B-52 aircraft hangar, built in the early 1950’s. The hangar was unusable because of the high concentration of deteriorating lead based paint (LBP) on the hangars interior steel structures; in excess of 15% by weight of lead in paint.

Hangar Description: 101,000 sq. /ft. of floor space, 3 individual block buildings located interior of the hangar, 1 million linear feet of steel structure to be de-leaded.

Lead removal process for the steel structure: Ultra High Pressure water blast technology was chosen utilizing hand held UHP water jetting lances capable of producing 40,000 PSI water blast pressure at 6.5 gallons per minute. An 8 man rotating crew, water-jetted from 80 foot man-lifts to remove the existing lead based coating from the steel structured, down to bear metal to an SSPC WJ-2 L standard.

Steel structure re-coating: All de-leaded steel surfaces were inspected by a NACE 3rd. party inspector, and then coated with three coats of high solid epoxy paint.

Filtration system for lead in suspension UHP waste water:
A high capacity ionic Exchange System was utilized to remove the waste water lead in suspension from a average of 2.0 mg/L to a required level of < 0.4 mg/L for disposal through the local sanitary sewage system. Each 21,000 gallon batch of filtered waste water was laboratory tested, results sent to the Orlando city Environmental department for disposal approval. 510,000 gallons for filtered (<0.4 mg/L) water was approved and disposed of through the city’s Sanitary Sewage System. Estimated cost for disposal of 510,000 gallons of filtered water: $1,650. Cost of city water supply: $1,200.

Hangar floor cleaning: The hangar floor was cleaned down to bear concrete utilizing 2 -UHP Hydrocat robotic units. These units operate electrically and produce 40,000 PSI water pressure, in a close loop cut and vacuum system, drawing 17 inches of mercury vacuum pressure.

Containment System: Both a ridged and flexible sealed containment system was utilized to prevent emissions and waste water from escaping into the outside environment.

Personal protective equipment and Decontamination System: water jetters were provided impermeable sealed outer garments and air supplied hooded breathing apparatus. . Eagle Decontamination unit was utilized.

OSHA Lead Worker Standards: SSPC C-3 Supervisor/ Competent Person ensured standard, personnel protection, air and medical monitoring was followed There was a negative rise in Blood lead levels or ZPP, in any on site worker throughout the 6 month duration of the de-leading project.

United Coatings followed the OSHA, SSPC De-leading standards and its Best Management Practices.

Before and After images:



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