Partnering with Australian industry during COVID-19 to deliver innovative safety solutions to Defence
Amphibious Combat and Sealift System Project Office (ACSSPO)
LHD Asset Class Prime Contractor
Developing an innovative approach to ensure delivery of HMAS Adelaide safely and on-time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the increased infection risk onboard ships and the vulnerability of a ship’s crew should there be an outbreak.
During the maintenance period on HMAS Adelaide in March 2020, Defence and NSM worked together to identify a solution to decontaminate and protect the ship’s structures, surfaces and touch points both internally and externally. The collaboration was supported by Director General Major Surface Ships (DGMSS) Commodore Rob Elliott and ACSSPO Sustainment Manager Commander Dane Wilson.
Following joint supplier and product reviews, which included fleet medical stakeholders, Permagard Group and their antimicrobial protective coatings were identified and selected as the best suited solution.
The Protection Brands range of surface coatings are designed to reduce the risk of infection of personnel through surface cross contamination. Introducing this measure, in conjunction with personal hygiene, standard cleaning and other control measures closes the gap in terms of risk to maintenance personnel and ship staff during and after scheduled maintenance periods. HMAS Adelaide was subsequently treated with the protective coating to both decontaminate surfaces and provide residual protection across the ship. The coating includes an ‘Antimicrobial Shield’ technology which has been successfully tested against many pathogens and viruses including the Novel virus family.
Two application methods were used to treat HMAS Adelaide. Disinfectant was sprayed on high risk common surfaces, including handrails, door handles, latches and locks. Once this had dried, an anti-microbial was fogged onto all surfaces using a 20-micron nozzle to reduce the possibility of water droplets forming. The product is touch dry in 30 minutes on hard surfaces and 60 minutes on soft furnishings, lasting up to 30 days.
HMAS Adelaide was scheduled and treated with the protective coating on 27-28 March 2020 and successfully sailed on time and safely after her major maintenance period, during which NSM also carried out extensive routine maintenance, urgent defect repair, as well as system upgrades across the platform. Not only did NSM meet the schedule, but were able to accelerate elements of the program, whilst also carrying out work on five other major surface ships at the same time.
After a successful application of HMAS Adelaide, HMAS Canberra followed suit and was treated on 4-5 April 2020.
Commander Dan Lucas from DDG SPO assisted in facilitating the message to the wider Navy community and this initiative was then rolled out by Navy and applied across the entire Major Surface Ship fleet.
Within a four-week period, Permagard Group had completed treatments of more than 30 Navy vessels located in all major Australian ports. The vessels included Amphibious Assault Ships HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra and Guided Missile Destroyers HMAS Brisbane, HMAS Hobart and HMAS Sydney. The initial program was achieved with exceptional support from key defence personnel. Feedback from all involved including ship staff, defence personnel and industry partners has been extremely positive.
Permagard Group has since provided the same services to NSM administrative and operational support locations in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Mark Pettitt, Managing Director of Permagard Group, says “it gave us great pride to work with NSM in helping them protect Australia’s naval assets and personnel during the pandemic. This work has been very important in minimising the impact the virus has had on businesses.”
“We are extremely grateful to be working with a genuine innovator in defence like NSM and look forward to doing more to support NSM’s objectives now and in the future” said Pettitt.