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Andersen ‘birdbath’ projected to cut maintenance cost, man-hours

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
A clear water rinse facility is currently under construction on the Andersen flightline to support maintenance for U.S. Department of Defense's flying assets deployed or transient here.

DOD contractors and members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron began construction of the Guam Strike Clear Water Rinse Facility, or "birdbath," in May 2013 and are scheduled to complete the facility by December of this year.

"It will be an enormous asset to both the B-52 Stratofortresses rotational here and every other aircraft that comes through because they will be able to continue the rinse cycle requirements that they have at their home station," said Maj. Shane Wehunt, 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.

According to Air Force technical orders, all aircraft stationed within 1.25 miles of salt water require a clear water rinse at least once every 15 days unless washed first.

"Maintainers sometimes have to reserve hangar space to wash the aircraft, and sometimes they can't because there are multiple things going on," said Tech. Sgt. Priscilla Lopez-Lucas, 36th Operations Support Squadron airfield manager. "With the new wash, they will be able to cut out the waiting time between exposure to salt water and rinsing it out."

Wehunt said clear water rinses mitigate and drastically reduce the amount of residue that can cause corrosion on the aircraft.

"When this rinse is not conducted regularly, the costs and time to replace parts and grind down corrosion is astronomical when the aircraft comes back to depot," Wehunt said. "Once the rust starts happening, it has to be ground out or else it will keep growing, even if the aircraft goes to a less humid location.

"In the future, it will pay for itself pretty quickly through the amount saved in the cost corrosion control."

Randy Bryner, Guam Strike Clear Water Rinse Facility project manager, said construction consists of a 14-inch-thick reinforced concrete pad, spray nozzle and underground pump vault that are remotely controlled from the air traffic control tower. Contractors also installed new underground electrical, water and sewer lines and major underground turnkey equipment to comply with airfield obstruction criteria.

"We're building eight water cannons and a system of spray bars that take care of the undercarriage and under wing," he said. "There are a lot of pumps, variable frequency drives and controls that regulate pressure to suit different aircraft. It's a pretty sophisticated system. It programs the water cannons to the airframe that will be coming through. With the help of the weather flight, the system also compensates on the speed and direction the winds are blowing."

Bryner said that the facility is also designed to be eco-friendly. The water used in the process will go through an oil-water separator. After separating the oil and water in different vaults, the water will then go through a filtration system that will make it reusable for future rinses.

The birdbath is slated to be fully operational by Exercise Cope North 2014. Through its sophisticated, cost efficient and earth friendly system, the birdbath will assist in keeping U.S. DOD and U.S. allied nations' aircraft operational and ready while deployed to Andersen.

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