Ontario lab helps craft medals from sunken Pearl Harbor battleship
Hamilton lab is helping mark the 80th anniversary of the Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as part of a project it says its work will “come full circle.”
The laboratory, operated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is unique in North America – one of the few places where steel can be rolled from the USS Arizona, one of the battleships that sank during the 1941 attack on the island of Oahu, and help turn it into a USS Arizona Medal of Freedom.
The research center will roll four ingots into sheets, from which the medals will be laser cut.
“Six Canadians were on the crew of the USS Arizona. Five of them perished in the attack and the sixth continued to fight another day, ”Philippe Dauphin, CEO of the CanmetMATERIALS laboratory, told CBC Hamilton.
“So for us it connects Canada to its history, it connects the lab to its origins, and it’s a chance for us to remember when these types of destruction were possible and hopefully will end. ”
CanmetMATERIALS is located inside the McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Road South.
WATCH: USS Arizona Ingot Rolling at Canmet MATERIALS in Hamilton:
One of Arizona’s last surviving crew, according to NRCan, Lauren Bruner, created a non-profit organization – the Lauren F. Bruner USS Arizona Memorial Foundation – to honor those who were aboard the ship the morning of the Japanese attack on US military installations in Hawaii.
The US Navy donated Arizona’s foundation steel, which has been submerged in Pearl Harbor since its sinking, NRCan said, adding that the material was used to create the medals.
Dauphin said the foundation will sell or present the medals to “people who help the foundation,” making it “the first and only time” that the ship’s steel has been made available to ordinary citizens – for US $ 1,000 each, a t -he declares.
“[Their] the goal is to remember the 1,177 men who perished that morning. ”
Until now, the Navy had not made steel available to museums, he added.
“It connects us to our history”
While the foundation was able to find a rolling mill in Alabama to melt steel and incorporate stainless steel alloys to create the ingots, a small-scale rolling mill was needed to reduce these ingots to sheets by sixteenth of an inch ( almost 1.6 mm) thick. The foundation went looking for a place to roll its steel and found the CanmetMATERIALS research center.
“This is ordinary steel that would rust, so it was burned in stainless steel by adding chromium and nickel in the steel plant in the southern United States,” Dauphin said.
“But they couldn’t find a place to roll the steel. It must first be hot rolled, quenched and then cold rolled to a thickness of one sixteenth of an inch, and they couldn’t find a place to roll the steel. rolling mill anywhere in the United States that could do that fast enough.
“So they approached us … In a way, it connects us to our story because [the research centre was] created in 1942 to aid Canada in the war effort, ”added Dauphin.
Dauphin said he received four plaques and one was used for a test roll – hot rolling – to ensure all parameters were correct.
“When we were able to roll the steel without damaging or cracking it, we set the parameters and then we rolled two more plates.
“On December 7, the last plate will be rolled up. The USS Arizona was sunk by a single bomb that hit its ammunition store at precisely 8:05 am Pearl Harbor time.
“So what we’re going to do is keep the plate at 1200 degrees [Celsius] and release it at exactly 2:05 p.m. [ET] on December 7th. It will be 80 years to the minute after that bombing that sank the ship, “said Dauphin.
“Like rolling pizza dough”
One of the scientists working on the project, Fateh Fazeli, said the pilot scale rolling mill is unique in North America.
“At CanmetMATERIALS, we have a unique facility and perhaps the only location in North America that could [do this] process, ”Fazeli told CBC News.
“[It’s like having] pizza dough and then you have a rolling pin, you flatten it out and make it thinner and thinner. We do the same with metal. “
Fazeli said he was one of the main technicians to determine plant specifications after the lab moved from Ottawa to Hamilton in 2012.
He said he believed then that the sole role of the factory would be to provide services to the industrial sector.
“At that time, I could not imagine that at some point this mill could play a much more valuable or different role and contribution to society, for example, honoring peacekeepers or preserving history.” , Fazeli said.
“For me, since starting this project about a month ago, when I noticed that this mill can contribute to these different aspects of Canadian society, I was very impressed and I really wanted to be part of it and contribute more to it. not only in science, but also in preserving the history and honor of certain heroes and peacekeepers in society. “
Fazeli said he and his colleagues were “honored to be a part of this project, and we are very happy to have been able to make a small contribution to preserving history and honoring our heroes.”
Role in Canada’s Clean Energy Future
Dauphin said CanmetMATERIALS has also played an important role on the clean energy front.
“We are unique in that we are developing advanced materials to help Canada’s clean energy future with the latest conference of the parties [COP26] and Canada’s commitments to reduce our emissions by 2035, then go to zero [emissions] by 2050, “he said.
The centre’s website says it’s working with automakers to improve fuel efficiency, for example, as well as the energy sector.
“The challenges will be enormous and laboratories like the one I manage … will allow Canada to position itself, to reassess the technologies that will allow Canada to produce electricity without emissions, and to reduce emissions from its sector. transportation and eventually get to the net zero commitment our Prime Minister made. ”