The Navy says it’s investigating an article that said the Marine Corps’ new mechanical pencil, a $4,000 product, could be a “fraud” that could result in the loss of service.
“I have spoken with the Marine who designed the Marine pencil, and I can tell you that the Marine is very proud of the product and has been working on it for several years,” Vice Adm.
Mark Esper, the chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement.
“The Marine pencil is not a fraud.
It is an accurate mechanical pencil with a very high quality, very robust material, and is available to the public.”
The Marine pencils use an adhesive that is supposed to last up to 30 years, Esper said.
But the adhesive has shown up on a number of pencils over the years and was found to be prone to breaking down.
In 2015, an Air Force scientist tested a different adhesive that had been used in the Marine’s pencil, concluding it could be more robust.
In 2017, an Army researcher tested the Marine-produced pencils on a variety of materials and concluded that the material was more robust than that used in a pencil made by a different company.
The issue surfaced after a report from the watchdog group the Government Accountability Office said the military was spending about $40 million a year to manufacture the pencils that have caused problems with corrosion and breakage.
The Navy has since said the pencil is safe and that it has spent about $3.7 million on retooling the Marine.
It’s also pledged to refund all the money it spent on retools, as well as replacing all the original pencils.
But Esper’s statement didn’t address the potential problems with the pencil itself.
The Marine Corps declined to comment for this story. Read more: