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NEWS | March 20, 2020

PSNS & IMF begins manufacturing hand sanitizer

By Max Maxfield, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s accredited laboratory has started producing isopropyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which is scheduled to be available in work areas throughout the shipyard starting next week.

While the solution contains the appropriate alcohol content consistent with Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and World Health Organization guidance, and is consistent with commercially-available options, hand washing is still the preferred option for workers to protect themselves from the Coronavirus.

According to Cody Matheson, the deputy director of Code 106, the Environment, Safety and Health Office, who spearheaded the effort, Capt. Diana Wolfson, commander, PSNS & IMF, wanted to put into action some of the ideas and feedback that had been provided directly from the waterfront.

“Capt. Wolfson embodies our Command Strategic Framework and the Command Guiding Principles for respecting every individual,” Matheson said. “The bottom line is, we care about the health and safety of everyone here at the command. This is one effort that directly supports this principle during these uncertain times.”

Matheson said it has been a challenge to procure the raw ingredients.  Code 980, Production Engineering and Facilities; and Code 500, the Supply Department, have been supporting procurement. Code 106 personnel have supported Safety Data Sheet review/approval and labeling validation.

The Code 134 lab personnel, led by Deniz Ferrin, have quickly set up production capacity, while also ensuring the product meets the specifications set forth by the FDA and CDC. 

“Production (Shop 06, the Tooling, Logistics and Equipment Maintenance shop; and Shop 64, Shipwrights, Sail Loft, Wood Crafters and Plastic Fabricators) are coordinating logistics and building stations to house the dispensers at each gate,” Matheson said. “True of most everything the shipyard is working on currently, this really has been a team effort.”

While the nationwide shortage of commercially-available hand sanitizer is apparent to anyone shopping, well, anywhere, finding the basic ingredients to produce hand sanitizer is also becoming a challenge.

“We have enough supplies as of right now to make 150 bottles of 16-ounce pump dispensable solution,” Matheson said. “This will be enough to get it to each CIA turnstile by Monday and a select number of stations throughout the shipyard.  We are prioritizing procurement of additional supplies and alternate formulations that will allow us to expand production capacity.”

This effort is only a stopgap measure, and the command will go back to purchasing commercially-produced hand sanitizer when it becomes available. Until then, the command will continue to work together as a team to overcome challenges as they pop up.

“This really is an extraordinary effort that we wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to pursue,” said Matheson. “We’re here to support the command.”