New Pigment Package Slows Discoloration on Navy Ships

The USS George Washington (pictured) recently received a pigment combination by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory that uses the haze gray paint standard applied to all U.S. Navy surface ships. Photo courtesy of Naval Research Laboratory.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) based in Washington, D.C., USA have created a pigment package that slows discoloration on the exterior coatings of surface ships. The NRL claims that the new pigments offer “excellent color stability,” are “five times harder than silicone alkyd,” and offer “improved gloss retention and chemical resistance” as well as “greater barrier properties.”

This new pigment combination enables a color stable coating of “haze gray,” which is the US. Navy’s standard color choice for exterior paints. The new pigment improves on coating technologies from outside paint manufacturers that showed signs of discoloration within a period of 18 months, or that faded to varying hues depending on which coating was applied. 

“We had a good idea on how to solve the issue, and we leveled the playing field by providing the pigment combination to all companies at the same time,” says Erick Iezzi, a NRL senior research chemist.

NRL is collaborating with Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Systems Engineering Directorate, Ship Integrity & Performance Engineering (SEA 05P) to make the new pigment combination into a military specification. After a period of testing pigment compensations, Iezzi and other corrosion science researchers began integrating for Navy use in 2015. In 2017, the USS Essex (LHD 2) was the first to receive the NRL-developed pigment. More recently, the USS George Washington (CVN 73) overhauled using the new pigment, which was then developed into a topcoat paint by Sherwin-Williams.

According to NRL, three paint manufacturers, including Sherwin-Williams, have begun mass production of the pigment technology. “It was motivating to know that several companies were willing to lean on our expertise to provide a new technology that would produce the best product for the Navy,” says lezzi.

Source: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory,