Down to the Sea in Inco’s Alloys (Part 2 of 2)

This backgrounder was produced for Inco employees worldwide in April 1990 by Denise Welker who at that time was a Communications Manager for Inco Alloys International Inc. The Inco Alloys division was sold in the late 1990s.

Inco’s History in Marine Alloys

Long before the advent of the nuclear navy, mariners were using Inco’s high performance alloys to conquer sea water corrosion. For more than 85 years, alloys invented and produced by Inco Alloys have demonstrated a special brand of strength and corrosion resistance – shoreline or offshore; above and below the water line.

MONEL alloy 400, a nickel copper alloy, was the first modern, high-strength, corrosion-resistant alloy to serve the U.S. Navy. Then cam MONEL alloy K-500, INCOLOY alloy 825, a nickel-iron-chromium alloy; and INCONEL alloys 625 and 718, nickel-chromium alloys. These and other Inco Alloys products have been working dependably at sea ever since.

Many marine applications don’t require the high levels of strength or corrosion resistance provided by these alloys. But when they do, these qualities are often critical. Failures are expensive, sometimes dangerous. For some applications, such as those in the nuclear submarine program, Inco Alloys products are the obvious choice to meet design demands. For many others, they are the long-term, cost-effective choice.

Some marine applications for Inco Alloys materials include pumps, valves, shafts, exhaust systems, fasteners, sheathing, rudder actuators and desalination equipment.

The marine industry has been a part of Inco Alloys’ core business since the Huntington mill opened in 1922, and today, marine applications account for more than 10 per cent of Inco Alloys’ sales.

Currently, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program is, by far, the largest user of Inco high-nickel alloys produced for marine applications. But in any job where strength and resistance to sea water corrosion are important, products form Inco Alloys are working successfully.

In addition to the newest submarine, two previous West Virginias served their state and nation.

The first ship to carry the Mountain State’s name was an armored cruiser launched in 1903 in Newport News, Virginia. Her name was changed from the USS West Virginia to the USS Huntington (after the hometown of Inco Alloys) in 1916. The ship was decommissioned in 1920 and scrapped in 1930.

The second USS West Virginia was christened in 1921, also in Newport News. The battleship had an overall length of 624 feet and a beam of 97 ½ feet. She won many awards for efficiency and firing accuracy but is best remembered because she was one of the battleship casualties of Pear Harbour on December 7, 1941.

After the West Virginia was raised from the harbour in 1941 and rebuilt, she participated in many historic Pacific battles during the remainder of World War II. The second West Virginia was decommissioned in 1947.

While no records have come to light which confirm that Inco’s nickel alloys were used in the second West Virginia, chances are good that they were.

MONEL metal was introduced to the market in 1905, and from then untile well after the opening of the rolling mill in Huntington, marine applications were a primary market for the alloy.

The battleships North Dakota and Florida, launched in 1909, were equipped with MONEL Metal propellers. In “For Years to Come”, the late Dr. John Thompson wrote that during the early 1900s the Navy purchased 40 propellers made of MONEL Metal.

When the Navy saw how well the new alloy resisted corrosion, the use of MONEL Metal for the nation’s marine defense was assured. The introduction of INCONEL alloys in 1931 and INCOLOY alloys in 1949 gave the Navy additional choices for strong, corrosion-resistant products to withstand the challenges of the sea.

In addition to Inco Alloys research, the LaQue Center for Corrosion Technology Inc., an Inco subsidiary in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, is world reknowned for corrosion research.