Cool paint for Aussie warships

A new type of paint is keeping Australian warships cool and reducing their visibility.

Australian warships were painted Storm Grey, a British Navy colour suited to overcast skies of the North Atlantic rather than Australia’s tropical waters.

“The previous colour is a historical artefact, but the conditions in our waters are quite different,” says Stefan Danek from Defence Science and Technology Group.

“So in the new Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Haze Grey, we now have a colour much more suited to the Australian environment, and a paint that’s better for it too.”

The new low gloss, low solar-absorbing polysiloxane paint was developed for the Royal Australian Navy by DST Group, in collaboration with Australian manufacturers.

The new formulation uses a polysiloxane binder rather than the polyurethane used in the previous paint, making it more durable, with improved gloss and colour stability.

This will reduce the overall level of shipboard painting maintenance required, and the patchy appearance of localised repairs. Currently, new paint applied to weathered surfaces noticeably contrasts with the ‘chalked’, or faded, surrounding areas, often leading to broad area repainting.

This new paint reduces solvent fumes by approximately 45 per cent and is less toxic that the old paint.

In trials the low solar-absorbing formulation reduced the surface temperature of patrol boats by 15-20 degrees Celsius compared to conventional coatings. That lowers the power load for on-board cooling systems. It also reduces a ship’s thermal signature, making it harder to detect with infra-red sensors.

The Australian fleet is expected to be fully repainted by 2019, with the Royal New Zealand Navy following suit.

Banner image: Navy ships in RAN Haze Grey (RHS, ship 155) and N42 Storm Grey (LHS, ship 156).
Greg Smith, ANZAC SPO