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Cadets Dive Into Corrosion Study

by Stefanie Senkow/Photo by Brett Seymour, National Park Service Submerged Resources Center
August 27, 2018

Cadets Dive Into Corrosion StudyaNEW LONDON, Conn. -- The remnants of a battleship bombed during Pearl Harbor continues as the subject of cadet research at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy

This past August, cadets, faculty and their National Park Service collaborators conducted a week-long field study in Hawaii to further examine the complex corrosion processes of the USS Arizona. The data collected will aid officials in making site-management decisions and also give cadets the opportunity to engage in an established, ongoing research program.

First Class Cadet (1/c) Marshall Grant started his research on this corrosion study in a chemistry laboratory at the Academy as a freshman and was excited to see the growth of this project over the past three years.

“I served as the administrative point of contact, responsible for the preparation, planning and logistics of the field work,” said 1/c Grant.

Upon arrival, cadets were first provided with an introduction to the history, followed by an underwater tour of the battleship that they’d be researching.

"While conducting science, it is important to put our work in context. The USS Arizona is the final resting place for almost all of the sailors and marines who lost their lives aboard during the attack in 1941. We carry out our tasks with a respectful awareness," notes Captain Richard Sanders, the cadets' research advisor.

In the lab, the cadets prepared test racks for underwater placement in order to study the early effects of corrosion.

“We’re going to measure the fabric loss of that corrosion to try to get a better estimate of the front end of the deterioration of Arizona,” said Brett Seymour of the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center.

“What made us so successful was our ability to help each other out,” said 1/c Grant. “Two of us brought our academic expertise while the other two already had their scuba diving certifications,” needed to conduct the field work.

“This experience solidified the connections between science, leadership and training. We worked so closely with people outside of the Coast Guard and learned so much. Sitting in the room with these top scientists, it really hit home—because of the Academy, I was able to have this incredible opportunity,” said First Class Cadet (1/c) Alicen Rè.

With work in Hawaii complete for now, this project turns to analysis of samples that are arriving in New London.

“The samples will be collected and shipped back to the Academy for analysis over the next six weeks, after three months, six months, and then yearly," said 1/c Grant. “The project will last through 2021 and so will be passed on to future cadets, who will pick up the pieces (literally) of the USS Arizona samples for further analysis."