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At the end of 2010 South Shields based Solar Solve Marine won 2 orders in quick succession that were destined for US Naval vessels.

The first order was for 29 of the company’s SOLASAFE roller screens for the navigation bridge windows of the USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) , one of the Navy’s newest Lewis and Clark class of Dry Cargo / Oiler / Ammunition logistics ships. Built at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California, the vessel was delivered to the US Navy, Military Sealift Command, on 14 July 2010.

With a Length of 689 feet, Beam 106 feet, Draft 29.5 feet and Displacement 35,400 long tons (fl.) she can carry a complement of 124 Civilian Mariners, 36 Military and 13 personnel for helicopter detachment. The 6.6KV propulsion and ship service electrical system are provided by FM/MAN B&W diesel generators. With one fixed pitch propeller and a bow thruster, the USNS Charles Drew has a range of 14,000 nautical miles at 20 knots.

The SOLASAFE marine blinds and screens are guaranteed for 5 years and will protect the ship’s personnel from solar radiation. They also help with cost and environmental issues by reducing the air conditioning power requirement.

The second order was for 21 SOLASAFE screens for windows of the USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204), a Henry J. Kaiser Class Underway Fleet Replenishment Oiler that was built at Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, Louisiana and placed in service with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on 7 November 1995. A double hulled tanker, Rappahannock is currently part of the Naval Auxiliary Force, MSC Far East.

With a Length of 677 feet, Beam 97.5 feet, Draft 35 feet and Displacement 31,200 dwt, she can carry a complement of 82 Civilian Mariners, 1 Naval Officer and 20 Enlisted seafarers, at 20 knots. Propulsion is through two medium speed Colt-Pielstick PC4-2/2 10V-570 diesel engines, twin shafts with CP propellers, 16,000 horsepower per shaft.

Paul Hopkins, Solar Solve’s Marketing Executive commented, “In October 2001 we supplied 19 SOLASAFE screens to the Rappahannock and we know this new order is to replace them, so they have outlasted their 5 year guarantee by a few years.”

Paul continued, “Both vessels work in extremely dangerous environments, often under hazardous weather conditions, where enhanced visibility is paramount and a distinct advantage. The adaptability of SOLASOLV’s screens allows personnel to instantly retract them when not required if the weather conditions change. As well as reflecting solar glare, the screens also reject infra red and ultra violet light making them highly versatile, very effective and eminently suitable for these highly specialised support ships .”