Abstract

The United States Navy (USN) 501-K Series Radiological Controls (RADCON) Program was launched in late 2011, in response to the extensive damage caused by participation in Operation Tomodachi. The purpose of this operation was to provide humanitarian relief aid to Japan following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck 231 miles northeast of Tokyo, on the afternoon of March 11, 2011. The earthquake caused a tsunami with 30 foot waves that damaged several nuclear reactors in the area. It was the fourth largest earthquake on record (since 1900) and the largest to hit Japan. On March 12, 2011, the United States Government launched Operation Tomodachi. In all, a total of 24,000 troops, 189 aircraft, 24 naval ships, supported this relief effort, at a cost in excess of $90.0 million. The U.S. Navy provided material support, personnel movement, search and rescue missions and damage surveys. During the operation, 11 gas turbine powered U.S. warships operated within the radioactive plume. As a result, numerous gas turbine engines ingested radiological contaminants and needed to be decontaminated, cleaned, repaired and returned to the Fleet. During the past eight years, the USN has been very proactive and vigilant with their RADCON efforts, and as of the end of calendar year 2019, have successfully completed the 501-K Series portion of the RADCON program. This paper will update an earlier ASME paper that was written on this subject (GT2015-42057) and will summarize the U.S. Navy’s 501-K Series RADCON effort. Included in this discussion will be a summary of the background of Operation Tomodachi, including a discussion of the affected hulls and related gas turbine equipment. In addition, a discussion of the radiological contamination caused by the disaster will be covered and the resultant effect to and the response by the Marine Gas Turbine Program. Furthermore, the authors will discuss what the USN did to remediate the RADCON situation, what means were employed to select a vendor and to set up a RADCON cleaning facility in the United States. And finally, the authors will discuss the dispensation of the 501-K Series RADCON assets that were not returned to service, which include the 501-K17 gas turbine engine, as well as the 250-KS4 gas turbine engine starter. The paper will conclude with a discussion of the results and lessons learned of the program and discuss how the USN was able to process all of their 501-K34 RADCON affected gas turbine engines and return them back to the Fleet in a timely manner.

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