Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014by Representative Eric Swalwell
Posted on 2014-04-01
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Mr. SWALWELL of California. Mr. Speaker, the Coast Guard is facing
difficult challenges related to maintenance and costs of its aging
ships and aircrafts. In these difficult financial times, the Coast
Guard should examine the potential cost savings resulting from the use
of laser peening technology, which may help to strengthen parts and
extend the life of the Coast Guard's assets.
Developed as a result of work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and in conjunction with Curtiss-Wright Metal Improvement Company, laser peening uses laser beam impacts to strengthen metal four times deeper than conventional shot peening, resulting in increased resistance to fatigue and erosion driven failures.
In ships, such as those used by the Coast Guard, erosion and cracking can occur in metals due to environmental and repeated stresses. These problems can cause damage to key metal components of ships such as propellers, rudders, ship hulls near propellers, control valves, pumps, and impellers. Without replacing or strengthening these important ship components, this damage can potentially lead to the part's unexpected failure. With a Coast Guard fleet stretched well beyond its estimated lifetime, the Coast Guard should examine the benefits of laser peening as a way to reduce costs and enhance the life of its ships.
Laser peening has been proven in both commercial and military settings. For example, in the commercial sector, laser peening has been used by Rolls-Royce to repair and strengthen cracked engine blades for airplanes. From its success with Rolls-Royce, in 2003 Curtiss-Wright became the first specialized laser peening repair station for commercial aviation to be approved by Federal Aviation Administration. Within the military, laser peening has been used by both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force to increase lifetime of aircraft components and save money on maintenance. These successful commercial and military applications have helped reduce costs by strengthening and extending the life of critical components.
In past years, the House has gone on record in support of laser peening as a means for saving money on future repairs. For example, the Armed Services Committee report accompanying H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 stated that: ``laser peening has achieved considerable success in commercial aerospace and power-generation applications, reducing costs by enabling improvements in the metal structure and mitigating high-cycle fatigue failures of a system, thus extending the system's lifetime.'' The Armed Services Committee further encouraged the Department of Defense ``to examine the potential cost savings that may be derived from adopting this technology broadly across the military services, but was concerned that some military departments have not fully explored the use of such technologies to reduce costs associated with problems of fatigue failure, stress corrosion cracking, and component shape corrections. The committee further encourages the Department to explore such technologies for use in aircraft engines to slow the rate of replacement of highly stressed components and parts.'' [[Page E516]] I suggest that the Coast Guard examine the potential cost savings that may be derived from adopting laser peening, which can be utilized to greatly reduce cracking and erosion. It could have wide benefits to Coast Guard vessels, fixed wing aircraft, and rotorcraft. The cost savings resulting from the use of laser peening could reduce the need for major structure rework, slow the rate of replacement of highly stressed components and parts, and provide a longer lifetime for Coast Guard assets.