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-Mandar Kulkarni

Marine Corrosion is the deterioration of metal in Marine environment due to various

processes like electrochemical reaction. The structures which are damaged by in marine
environment are as follows:

Marine structures damaged by Corrosion:

1. Boats and vessels.
2. Harbor and oil exploration facilities.
3. Ports.
4. Monuments erected in sea.

The corrosion of these structures can result in premature failures, reduced service life,
increased maintenance costs and safety hazards. So it is very important to study the types of
corrosion observed, materials used and protection methods used for these types of corrosion.

The Types of Corrosion in Marine Environment:

1. Galvanic Corrosion:
The most widespread corrosion in marine environments is Galvanic Corrosion .General
corrosion appears as a continuous layer of corrosion over an entire surface area. It occurs more
often for objects exposed to air such as pipings and plates on exposed structures such as offshore
platforms and ship. These are not found when objects are totally submerged in water.
Galvanic corrosion occurs when two different types of metals are put into contact with
each other while they are immersed in an electrolyte, such as seawater. The reason corrosion
takes place between two different, coupled metals is that a voltage difference (potential) exists
between them. The result is that one metal corrodes faster and other noble metal corrodes slower
or ceases to corrode. The galvanic series is used to determine the potential for corrosion.
The first sign of galvanic corrosion is paint blistering (starting on sharp edges) below the
water line—a white powdery substance forms on the exposed metal areas. As the corrosion
continues, the exposed metal areas will become deeply pitted, as the metal is actually eaten

Galvanic corrosion of aluminum drive units—or any underwater aluminum on a boat—is

accelerated by attaching stainless steel components like propellers, trim planes (if connected to
engine ground), and aftermarket steering aids. In doing this, we introduce a dissimilar metal to
which electrons from the drive unit will follow. Another condition that will increase the speed or
intensity of galvanic corrosion is the removal or reduction in surface area of sacrificial anodes.
Galvanic corrosion continually affects all underwater aluminum, but at a reduced rate when no
dissimilar metals are connected to the aluminum parts. When in contact with an electrolyte, most
metals form small anodes and cathodes on their surfaces due to such things as alloy segregation,
impurities, or cold working. Galvanic corrosion is used to protect ship hulls by bolting zinc
anodes to steel hulls.
2. Intergranular Corrosion
Intergranular corrosion is a microscopic form of corrosion that is caused by the potential
difference between the grain boundaries of the metal and the grain bodies. When the grain bodies
are anodic to grain boundaries corrosion occurs along the grain boundaries. The result is porous
and a weakened structure. This type of corrosion is common for cast iron placed in sea water,
and it occurs in brass having more than 15% zinc.

3. Stress Corrosion Cracking

Stress corrosion cracking (SCC) is an insidious type of corrosion that can occur when
stainless steel develops very minute cracks from being under tensile stress. Most sailors know
that a sailboat’s rigging is one of the areas on the vessel that bears considerable load. The
components on the rigging that are stressed while the vessel is under sail include the chainplates,
stempiece, and their bolting systems; backstay connections to the stern; toggles and clevis pins;
rolled swages; tangs (shroud connections to the mast); the actual stays and shrouds, etc.

4. Crevice Corrosion
This occurs due to limited availability of oxygen. A crevice may be formed under any of
the following: deposits (such as silt or sand), plastic washers, fibrous gaskets, or tightly wrapped
fishing line. It can also form where moisture can get in and not back out, forming a stagnant

5. Erosion Corrosion
This occurs when sea water is flowing and it is often found in bends and elbows of pipes.
Corrosion due to cavitation is also caused due to sea water but the mechanism is different.
6. Marine Growth
A lot of hard growth occurs on all submerged metal. Marine organisms are attracted to
the high electrical current generated by Zinc. Anodes with a lower mV potential will not attract
the same level of growth.

Selecting Right Material

Selecting right material for a particular application can avoid or minimize corrosion.
Some typical requirements and procedures to select the best possible material are shown below:

Protection Methods
It is always said that “Prevention is always better than cure.” The optimum time to
prevent this is the design stage; the worst time is after the existence of corrosion has been
discovered. Some of the protection methods used are given below:

1. Cathodic Protection:
Cathodic Protection is the most common form of corrosion protection for a submerged
material; and it is best used in conjugation with paints and coatings. Two types of Cathodic
protection are used:
 Galvanic cathode protection
 Impressed current system

The impressed current system is a more permanent system and requires the use of
external electrical power. Galvanic protection uses aluminum, magnesium or zinc anodes that are
attached to the steel material in sea water. The principle is that when a metal receives electrons it
becomes cathode, and can no longer corrode. The metals providing electrons are sacrificial
anodes and they corrode. Cathodic Protection is extensively used to protect ship hulls by bolting
zinc anodes to steel hulls. Zinc acts as sacrificial anode and protects the steel hull.

2. Design
Good design incorporates corrosion protection methods during the design stage itself.
Geometric configurations that are known to cause or accelerate corrosion can be eliminated.
Examples are elimination of crevices, stagnant areas, stress risers.
3. Antifouling Paint on Drives
Fouling is a major concern in many situations. Marine animals (barnacles, Mussels, etc.)
and vegetation can make life miserable for boaters. Antifouling paints are available, but some
can affect corrosion protection or even accelerate corrosion. Tributyltin-(sometimes referred to
as TBT or organotin) based antifouling paints are used to control fouling and do not cause
corrosion problems for aluminum drives.

4. Galvanic Isolators
Galvanic isolators are solid-state devices that are part of a series connected in line to the
boat's green safety ground lead ahead of all grounding connections on the boat. This device
functions as a filter, blocking the flow of destructive low voltage galvanic (DC) currents but still
maintaining the integrity of the safety grounding circuit.

Corrosion Protection Testing

For diagnostic tests, a simple digital volt/ohm meter (multimeter) is necessary. An analog
version may be used, but it must be a high-impedance model. Even the most inexpensive digital
volt/ohm meter has high impedance. One of the most helpful methods for determining if
corrosion below the waterline is occurring is through the measurement of the hull potential.

The parameters for Corrosion testing in Marine Environment are as follows:

1. Temperature
2. Depth
3. Salinity
4. Water Current
5. Meteorological
6. Waves and Tides
7. Water Samples
8. Sediment Samples

Some of the devices used to measure these parameters are Current Meters, Anemometers, Tide
and Wave Gauges, Multi parallel Systems, Water Samplers, Laser Systems, etc. Tests can be
designed for these parameters using the above mentioned instruments. The results of these tests
can be used to prevent corrosion in the marine environment.