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Spray Foam Magazine – Late Summer 2022 – When the BIDCO Marine Group of Buffalo approached A1 Insulation & Coatings LLC regarding a rather unusual project, Troy Gilchrist and his crew were eager to get started and solve what could have been an unsinkable problem.

A WWII Submarine named the USS Croaker, sprung a leak on its starboard side in one of the compartments used to submerge the submarine. Time was of the essence to fix this issue and help restore a piece of American maritime history.

The USS Croaker was part of the most lethal submarine class of WWII. Commissioned in 1944, it conducted six war patrols in the pacific theater. She sank eleven Japanese vessels, four of which were capital or military vessels, and seven auxiliary or support vessels. The submarine is not in her original WWII configuration because after the war, she was converted to a “hunter-killer” submarine with added sonar, radar, and quieting capabilities to combat the Russian threat during the Cold War. She was decommissioned in 1971 and brought to the Buffalo Naval Park in 1988. She celebrated her 75th birthday in 2019.

Troy Gilchrist, the owner of A1 Insulation & Coatings, got his start in insulation with cellulose retrofit insulation while working for weatherization programs in New York State. He later became involved in the spray foam industry, setting up his own company and learning how to apply spray foam by working with local contractors who had experience in the industry. He has now been working in the SPF industry for the past 20 years. A1 Insulation & Coatings thrives on providing the best insulation installation in Western New York and a staff committed to providing the highest level of customer service and professionalism.

BSS-246 Length: 311 feet Beam: 27 feet Draft: 17 feet Displacement: 1,525 tons Armament: Eight Mk-44 torpedo tubes Complement: 81 Sailors.

To repair the vessel, the A1 crew drained water out of the leaking compartment and then filled it up with foam, all while working around steel pipes in the tight space.

When the three-man crew arrived on-site at the Naval Park, they soon discovered there was no surface prep necessary for this project. The main objective was to drain as much water as possible out of the compartment and then fill the compartment up with foam. This was to ensure it both sealed the compartment from any water coming back in. Since the submarine is decommissioned and no longer operational, it needed to have added buoyancy, much like an internal flotation device.

The total spray volume of the compartment was 12 feet wide by eight feet long and approximately 30 feet deep. The steel substrate included many steel pipes running through the compartment that the crew had to work around. NCFI Polyurethanes 21-070 foam was applied, and, in this case, distributed by Profoam Corporation out of Rutledge, GA. This foam meets Title 46 CFR 179.240 for flotation foam and is even U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Gilchrist and his crew used a PMC PH40 proportioner with a Fusion PC gun to install the foam. Spraying the material filled in approximately 1,920 cubic feet of foam, using a total of two and a half sets.

Profoam’s on-site tech support was critically important to the job. Profoam’s tech, Ian Ellender’s experience with injection foam helped guide the spray foam applicator through the job. Originally considering pouring the foam into the compartment, Ian recommended spraying the pour foam with this application. This gave the applicator more control over the placement of foam as he worked himself from the floor of the compartment, up through the myriad of pipes and finally to the exit/entrance hatch. Ian coached the spray applicator through the entire job while making sure he had ample hose and supplied fresh air.  

BIDCO was very happy with the results, and the A1 crew and the entire team on this successful project feel confident that they will be asked to come back to fill in more compartments for the USS Croaker and possibly for the USS The Sullivans, a WWII Destroyer that also saw combat action.

Everyone who took part in this historical job were honored to be involved, especially with the application timed close to Memorial Day. Being able to preserve a submarine that fought for our country’s freedom during the last Great War, was something A1 Insulation & Coatings LLC, Profoam Corp., and BIDCO Marine Group will never forget.  

By: Danielle Macdonald on Aug 01, 2022
Categories: Foam Systems
Tags: spray foam magazine, Late Summer Issue 2022
Issue: Late Summer Issue 2022

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