The U.S. Navy has selected mooring lines made with Honeywell's Spectra fiber to help ensure the safety of its crews against line failure, reduce overall line weight, and improve the longevity of the ropes.
Whitehill Manufacturing Corporation recently developed the new rope using Spectra fiber to further improve the strength, durability and safety of the lines. Spectra fiber has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any synthetic fiber, including nylon, polyester and aramid. Spectra fiber is, pound for pound, ten times stronger than steel, yet light enough to float. It is hydrophobic -- meaning it will not absorb moisture or deteriorate in water -- making it ideal for marine applications.
"The safety of sailors is the Navy's paramount concern," said Sim Whitehill of Whitehill. "As a long-time partner of Honeywell, we knew that Spectra fiber would be the ideal component in creating the new lines. Using Spectra, we were able to make the ropes lighter, more durable and better suited for use in and around water. This helps streamline operations at the pier, while more securely mooring naval vessels."
In the past, injuries caused by breaking or recoiling ropes were of concern to the Navy. Traditional nylon or polyester lines tethering large ships were snapping under strain, hurting sailors as they recoiled. To protect its crews, the Navy selected a custom-designed four-strand rope produced by Whitehill. This rope was engineered with one strand slightly shorter than the others, causing it to break first when the rope was about to fail, dissipating energy and alerting sailors to clear the premises.
Whitehill's new rope incorporates this short-strand technology with the strength of Spectra fiber. The new Spectra-based rope is twenty percent lighter than an aramid rope of equivalent strength. This enables a number of improvements, such as providing a stronger, lighter line that allows for single-part mooring rather than doubling up -- going ship to shore twice in an effort to improve line strength -- and allowing for a thicker jacket for an added layer of protection. In addition, unlike aramid ropes, Spectra lines float in water. If a sailor drops one, it can be easily spotted and retrieved before it sinks and becomes entangled.
"Spectra fiber is used around the world in a wide array of high-performance customized rope and cordage applications such as that of the Navy," said marketing manager Barbara McGrath Costain. "We are honored to work with Whitehill to keep sailors safe and secure with Spectra-based mooring lines."
Honeywell Specialty Materials provides high-performance specialty materials, including fluorocarbons, specialty films and additives, advanced fibers and composites, customized research chemicals, and electronic materials and chemicals.