Aluminum is Ideal Choice for Naval Designs

February 10, 2012

Presentation at American Society of Naval Engineers (ANSE) Shows Advantages of Cutting Edge Alloys

PITTSBURGH--Modern aluminum alloys and their ability to provide strength, durability, protection and enhanced survivability – while at the same time offering less weight for increased speed, maneuverability and enhanced fuel efficiency -- makes the material an ideal choice in modern naval designs according to a paper by Alcoa Defense presented this week at the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) show.

Aluminum has been successfully used since its commercialization as a material for ships. Most recently, the newest ships from the U.S. Navy such as Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV) and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) utilize aluminum in hull and super-structure applications. In fact, the Independence seaframe LCS features more than one million pounds of high-grade aluminum alloys in each ship, making it one of the single largest uses of aluminum in the world.

The presentation puts to rest the myths associated with aluminum and certain well-known naval incidents involving: the USS Belnap; HMS Sheffield; and the USS Stark. A thorough review of the literature and naval records across several countries dispelled the myth that “aluminum burned” in these incidents; in fact, conditions on a naval vessel do not exist to allow this to happen.

Survivability is a key factor in any military application. The ballistic performance of Alcoa’s newest alloys including 7085 (Alcoa’s ArmXTM for AP resistance and Blast protection) to 7039 were also covered at ASNE. Test data presented showed 7085 with up to 14% better performance than 7039 and 24% better than 6061 against AP threats. Additionally, ArmXTM AP Armor and Blast Armor have been shown to perform 5% better than 6061 and 5083 against FSP threats. Alcoa’s armor alloys have been battle tested in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The increase in performance through Alcoa’s newest defense alloys, as well as elimination of myths associated with naval incidents has ultimately led to a better understanding of aluminum’s potential, leading to its current use in the newest and most cutting-edge naval ships.

A copy of the paper, presented by Kyle A. Crum, Technology Manager for Alcoa Defense at the Alcoa Technical Center can be found at

About Alcoa Defense

Alcoa Defense partners with industry leaders to design systems and materials that increase the speed, reach, agility and survivability of military platforms. In addition to delivering lightweight, innovative solutions in multiple product forms, Alcoa Defense manufactures subassemblies, prototypes and complete aluminum structures that original equipment manufacturers can integrate into their platforms for land, air and sea. More information can be found at

About Alcoa

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 10 consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 31 countries across the world. More information can be found at

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