When US Navy carrier battle groups are rapidly deployed to hot spots, they need supply ships fast enough to keep up with them. That is the purpose of the US Military Sealift Command’s T-AOE-6-class fast combat support ship.
The T-AOE-6-class, which is the MSC’s largest combat logistics ship, can carry more than 177,000 barrels of oil; 2,150 tons of ammunition; 500 tons of dry stores; and 250 tons of refrigerated stores. There are currently 4 in service.
L-3 Systems in Camden, NJ recently won a contract worth up to $44.7 million to design and produce the ships’ machinery control systems…
Invasion of Inchon during the Korean War (click to view larger)
Pushed to the edge of the Korean peninsula by a massive and sustained invasion by the North Korean army, South Korean, US, and UN troops dug in at a perimeter around the city of Pusan. It was the summer of 1950 and things looked desperate for the allied forces.
Then, US General Douglas MacArthur launched a bold counteroffensive – an amphibious landing at the port of Inchon near the 38th parallel. The landing was successful; MacArthur retook South Korea’s capital city of Seoul. The South Korean and allied forces broke through at Pusan and the North Korean army beat a hasty retreat. The tide of the Korean war had turned.
Playing an important role in the Inchon invasion was the US Navy’s Assault Craft Unit One, formed in 1947 to operate, maintain, and provide assault craft for US amphibious landings in the Pacific theater. The ACU-1 continues to operate today from Naval Base Coronado in southern California. To fulfill its role as the only assault craft unit in the Pacific Fleet, ACU-1 needs to maintain its craft in top condition. To do this, the Navy recently awarded $30.5 million in contracts to maintain the engines on the ACU-1’s small boats and craft…
USS Hartford [SSN-768] returns to New London for repairs
General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. (GDEB) in Groton, CT received a $25 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00024-10-C-4302) to staff and operate the Nuclear Regional Maintenance Department (NRMD) at the Naval Submarine Base New London, according to Robert Hamilton at GDEB. The company will perform project management, engineering and planning, training, inspection, and radiological control services for nuclear submarine maintenance, modernization and repairs.
The contract has a potential value of $78 million over 3 years if all options are exercised. The US Department of Defense incorrectly announced Oct 26/09 that the GDEB contract was for non-nuclear maintenance and repair support at the base’s Naval Submarine Support Facility.
GDEB had been operating the NRMD under a previously awarded contract. The company’s current NRMD staff is around 25 employees, but that number has been as high as 100, according to Hamilton. The NRMD consists of five groups…
General Atomics in San Diego, CA won a $32.7 million not-to-exceed, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for development of a prototype hybrid electric drive (HED) system on DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers. Under the contract, General Atomics intends to demonstrate the capability for significant fuel savings by incorporating advanced electric machine technology.
General Atomics will perform the work in San Diego, CA (50%); Milwaukee, WI (24%), and Hudson, MA (26%), and expects to complete it by June 2014. This contract was competitively procured under a Broad Agency Announcement, with 23 offers received by the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard, DC (N00024-09-C-4222).
“If the United States ranks near the bottom amongst India’s defence suppliers, Washington’s penchant for imposing sanctions and restrictions has much to do with it. Now, the US appears to have shot itself in the foot again. The Indian Navy chose to power its indigenously designed, cutting-edge stealth warship, the INS Shivalik, with gas turbines from American company General Electric (GE). But even as the Shivalik readies for sea trials, the US State Department has ordered GE to stop all work.”
In July 2006, “India Orders 3 More Krivak III/Talwar Class Frigates” covered a $1.1 billion Indian order. The Krivak III Class is the basis for several current and future Indian Navy designs. These include the initial 1997 order, the “modified Krivak III” order placed in 2006, India’s “Project 17” Shivalik Class frigates, and a “Project 17A” that could either extend Indian modifications of the Krivak IIIs once again, or adopt an entirely different base platform.
Shivalik Class frigates are larger than the Talwar Class, and feature additional shaping and design changes to lower their radar and infrared signatures. They also adopted a popular American turbine for combat propulsion, in hopes of improving operational reliability. Those engines are now sowing grave doubts about a different kind of reliability. As the saying goes, there is now good news, and bad news…
Britain’s 16,000t Vanguard Class nuclear missile submarine HMS Vigilant (S30) has been moved into Plymouth for a GBP 300 million (currently $422 million) overhaul that will take about 42 months to complete. At it’s peak, it’s expected to sustain 1,000 dockyard jobs, and another 1,000 jobs across industry.
That’s a long time, and a lot of people, but adding a new nuclear reactor core is no simple task. The new core is derived from the design used in Britain’s Astute Class fast attack submarines, and it will never need refueling again. This is a trend in modern naval nuclear power plants; America’s Seawolf ad Virginia Class fast attack submarines, and its forthcoming Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, also have new reactor designs that eliminate costly mid-life refueling.
Babcock’s work will go beyond the reactor swap-out, to include improvements to the accommodation and mess (kitchen/dining) areas, and revalidation of the submarine’s safety systems. HMS Vigilant is expected to return to the fleet in 2012. UK MoD | Babcock International.
“Virginia Block III: The Revised Bow” explains the program history and cost targets for the USA’s future Virginia Class nuclear submarine fleet, while detailing the new “six shooter” bow design.
Now Christmas has come early for General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation in Groton, CT, thanks to a $14.011 billion fixed-price incentive multi-year contract. Working with their partner Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, the firm will be the lead contractor for 8 new Virginia Class submarines, as the Navy orders SSN 784 – SSN 791 between FY 2009 – FY 2013. The USS North Dakota [SSN 784] will be the first fielded example of the new Virginia Class Block III configuration, which has been redesigned in ways that improve its flexibility while reducing its costs…
“USA Broadening Conservation Focus to Weapons Systems” discussed a number of items, including April 2006 testimony from Ronald O’Rourke [PDF] of the Congressional Research Service, which looked at the rising cost of fuel and its implications for the US Navy. One of the most interesting possibilities discussed was the return of high-tech sailing ships, which used sails or even kites made of advanced materials in order to harness wind power as an assist to the engines, offsetting fuel costs.
That concept is no longer speculation – the US Navy’s Military Sealift command has just chartered one.
The 400-foot long MV Beluga SkySails departed Newport, Wales on Oct 5/08 after the first of 3 European port calls to load U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force cargo, before the ship’s month-long voyage to the United States. It’s the world’s first operational cargo ship to use a giant, computer-controlled sky sail that can rise 100 or more yards into the air, thanks to a novel technology from the German firm SkySails GmbH of Hamburg, Germany that adds efficiency, but prevents issues like ship heeling in strong winds.
The ship’s novel technology was not an explicit factor in the award, but the operating company estimates that the sky sail can reduce fuel costs by 20 – 30%, or roughly $1,600 per day. If so, that would be an important competitive edge when pricing the charter bid. MSC release | MarineLog.
Western Branch Diesel, Inc. in Portsmouth, VA received a $10.2 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity requirements contract. They will perform maintenance services, engine overhaul, and repair of the MK V Special Operations Crafts’ MTU 12V396TE94 diesel engines. The Mk V is a fast insertion/extraction boat used by Navy SEALs, and there are reports of these 82 foot long boats reaching over 60 mph/ 100 km/h in smooth seas. They take a real beating in rough surf, however, and so do their operators. Beyond these kinds of maintenance contracts, therefore, the Navy is experimenting with composite versions of the boat, while also testing systems like Stiletto with its special M-hull.
Work will be performed in Portsmouth, VA (80%) and Norfolk, VA (20%), and is expected to be complete by March 2013. This contract was competitively procured via Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 3 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, FL (N61331-08-D-0018).
Alion Science and Technology in Chicago, IL received a $9.8 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for research and development activities associated with the development of Integrated Power Systems Advanced Modules and Conceptual Engineering/Ship Implementation. The Contractor will develop shipboard electrical system architectures and characterize Next Generation Integrated Power System components. Work will be performed in Annapolis, MD and is expected to be completed by January 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $162,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via Broad Agency Announcement; 68 white papers were received, 19 proposals were requested, and 18 awards have been made. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC is the contracting activity (N00024-08-C-4201).
That’s a lot of activity. Why so much? Part of the reason is the strong trend, in the US Navy and in the rest of the world, toward all-electric ships that replace all steam powered, hydraulically powered, or pneumatically/mechanically powered components with electrically-driven components. These components, and the propulsion drive, would be powered as a single pool by a single set of generators linked to the ship’s turbines. The result would be a ship that is quieter, easier to maintain (with additional help from the F-35 program’s ‘intelligent wiring’ advances), has more internal space available, and uses less fuel. The cruise ship industry has led the transition toward all electric ships, the new T-AKE cargo ships employ a modified version of those advances, and the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers/ light cruisers would be the first American ship with all-electric drive and fully integrated power management. Meanwhile, research into tougher electronics that can take advantage of this power continues, as does more overtly offensive research around electro-magnetic weapons like rail guns. See the NDIA’s “All-Electric Ship Could Begin to Take Shape By 2012” for additional background.