New Vacuum Furnace to Stress Test Defense Vessel Parts

A new vacuum furnace will be tasked to stress test parts for the LM2500 turbine, which is used by the U.S. Navy to power Spruance and Kidd-class destroyers, Olive Hazard Perry-class frigates, Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Ashleigh Burke-class destroyer

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) commissioned the $1.9 million furnace from SECO/Warwick Group, which manufactured the 2,800°F unit to specification for technicians to test the engine’s components after the heat treat process. It will not be used for the heat treating or plating of LM2500 parts.

“The furnace was custom made for our use and took almost a year to manufacture,” said Martha Hoffman, project manager for FRCSW’s Capital Investment Program (CIP), which invests in new technologies and equipment to improve production efficiencies. “The equipment arrived May 15, and the sign off (acceptance) was July 2.”

The new unit replaces a model that was more than 50 years old with a four-year history of sporadic operation. Difficulty in maintenance and increasingly obsolete replacement parts often resulted in a 60-80 percent down time, causing some LM2500 work to be contracted out.

Sailors check a gas turbine engine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian M. Brooks/Released via Wikimedia)

Hoffman said that the new unit will save the command about six months in turn-around time per part vice contracted workload and that 12-15 components will be tested weekly.

FRCSW is scheduled to overhaul about 15 LM2500 engines annually.

 

Photo caption:

FRCSW teammates who were instrumental in the procurement, installation and acceptance of the Seco/Warwick Group furnace are, from left, materials engineers Michael Schutt and Jessica Porras, CIP project manager Martha Hoffman, metrology calibration Hung Pham, and material engineers David Arenas and Blake Whitmee. (U.S. Navy photo)