SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- In an effort to cut down costs and promote a green work environment, crew members of the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) are using sodium bicarbonate media blasters, or soda blasters, during the Ship's Restricted Availability maintenance period in San Diego, July 25.
Soda blasting is a green technology, and is part of the crew's larger effort to extend the life of the ship to over 30 years by using a water-soluble, clean and energy efficient way to combat the effects of corrosion and cracking.
The soda blasters allow crew members to strip away rust and layers of paint from parts of the ship such as ladders and pipes. It is a quick way to see the extent of corrosion damage or cracking instead of having them shipped to outside vendors.
Chief Interior Communications Electrician Jared Horrell, the preservation team leading chief petty officer, said having the soda blasters is safer for the environment and saves the Navy money by minimizing the amount of work contracted out.
"The material that we're using is actually baking soda and it's water-soluble, so the biggest benefit of it is we can just wash it away," said Horrell. "The command decided that a lot of things that are usually contracted out we can do, so we don't need any outside help."
Horrell said the soda blasters save the Navy approximately $700 a week and reduce the amount of work time 75 percent by allowing crew members to get into tighter areas and clean more efficiently. "We can get a lot quicker turn around doing it ourselves," said Horrell.
Seaman Apprentice Mark Gibson said the soda blaster helps to smooth rough surfaces.
"It helps get it cleaner and quicker than a needle gun, or any other cleaning device or hand sanding it," said Gibson.
Horrell said the project was a success because of how everyone from the commanding officer down to the seaman recruit takes ownership of the Cape St. George.
"We got a lot of young guys, a lot of them haven't been in the Navy very long at all," said Horrell. "They're motivated, they're learning about the ship, taking ownership of it and get a sense of accomplishment."
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacensandiego/.