Kinser facility busts rust, saves Marines millions
CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — In with the old, out with the new: That’s the name of the game at the Corrosion Rehabilitation Facility here as they take in old, rusty, sometimes worn-out gear and make it like new again.
The shop, which falls under Marine Corps Base G-4 (Logistics), has been in existence since 1994, originally with a handful of Marines working there. In November 2004, six civilians took over operations, overseeing 38 contractor employees who perform the work, according to Bill Antell, Corrosion Rehabilitation Facility branch head.
Workers at the facility can refurbish everything from rifle racks and generators to 7-ton trucks and 40-foot cranes, Antell said.
“Virtually anything the Marine Corps owns, we can do,” he said.
When a piece of gear arrives at the facility, Antell said, the first step is to inspect the gear and write a contract for the work to be done. The item is steam-cleaned to get oil and dirt off and sandblasted to remove rust. If needed, the item is sent to the body repair shop. It doesn’t matter if it’s steel, aluminum or Fiberglass — Antell said they can fix it all.
Once repairs are complete, the item gets sanded by hand before being prepped for new paint. After a primer coat is applied, a green base coat is put on, Antell said. To complete the camouflage pattern, chalk outlines display where the black and brown paints should be applied according to regulations, and then it’s literally paint by numbers.
The last step is a full undercoating and a “corrosion inhibiting compound” on any area where metal meets metal, Antell said.
In addition to providing the ability to refurbish gear, the local facility helps the Marine Corps save money by eliminating costly shipping charges.
“We put through 1,509 pieces of gear last year,” Antell said. “If we would have shipped that gear to Barstow [Calif., for repair], the cost would have been $7.5 million in shipping alone.”
Another benefit of the rehabilitation facility is how quickly the gear is put back into service.
“We can turn an [assault amphibious vehicle] around in 30 days,” Antell said. “If we sent it to California, it would still be in the water on a ship at 30 days.”
While the facility’s mission primarily is to repair III Marine Expeditionary Force equipment, Antell said it also does work on gear from other branches of service, on a reimbursable basis.
Larry Brantley, the deputy assistant chief of staff for G-4, said the facility contributes significantly to III MEF’s combat readiness.
“By extending the service life of tactical equipment on island through corrosion control, CRF reduces the repair and transportation costs as well as time lines that would be required if the equipment had to return stateside,” Brantley said.
“Many years ago, Headquarters Marine Corps recognized the benefits and continues to support the program. While the Marine Corps on island enjoys the biggest return, other military services have taken advantage of the corrosion repair program by inducting equipment into the CRF.
“As long as there is tactical equipment deployed in a corrosive environment like Okinawa, there will always be a need for the CRF.”