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The Challenge

A major component of the Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC) is conducting Extended Docking Work Periods (EDWPs), where Babcock maintains, refits, and overhauls Canada’s fleet of Victoria Class Submarines.

One of the requirements of each EDWP is to survey and remove a number of the acoustic tiles that are applied to the submarine’s structure. Among other things, these tiles are crucial to the sound-proofing and cloaking of the Victoria Class Submarines as they move through the water.

During previous EDWP docking periods, tiles were removed mechanically using hand tools with numerous scaffolding modifications required, which has proven to be a very labour intensive and slow process. For HMCS Corner Brook, given the higher than normal number of tiles that needed to be removed, it was estimated that the time required to remove the tiles using the existing method would take over 37,000 hours of labour.

The Solution

In order to reduce time and costs, Babcock Canada and Victoria Shipyards conducted a trial using Ultra-High Pressure (UHP) Water Blasting for the removal of the acoustic tiles. UHP Water Blasting uses a jet of water to erode the rubberized tile material, while still leaving a clean surface preparation on the structure.

The trial concluded that using UHP Water Blasting left a clean and smooth profile on the submarine’s structure, reduced the probability of any impurities being left behind and future corrosion, as well as improved the new tile adherence during the replacement process. The tile material is also a controlled good, which used to require incineration for disposal. The UHP removal process reduced the tiles to a sludge and as a result de-classified the waste. This could be separated from the waste water and disposed of through normal waste channels which removes the need for incineration.

UHP Water Blasting significantly decreased the time it took to remove each tile from 4-5 hours to 2-3 seconds per tile, and provided multi-million dollar savings for the Victoria In-Service Support Contract.

Building on our global experience, Babcock Canada was able to significantly reduce labour time and create substantial savings for our customer by introducing UHP Water Blasting as a component in submarine EDWPs.

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