Type 26 programme progresses under demonstration phase contract
Warship Technology: July/Aug 2015
More than 40 equipment contracts are planned to be placed with 30 companies across the supply chain over the course of the 12-month demonstration phase. These follow on from the Design Development Agreement contracts previously let to nominated suppliers
In parallel with these design maturation and engineering supply chain activities, the company is also embedding a business transformation programme at its Glasgow shipbuilding operations intended to optimise the Type 26 design, increase efficiency, and improve delivery performance. As part of this, BAE Systems has recently confirmed plans to invest more than £100 million in its shipbuilding facilities at Govan and Scotstoun on the River Clyde.
Intended to replace the Royal Navy’s current Type 23 frigates from the early 2020s, the Type 26 has been conceived as an acoustically quiet surface combatant that will form the backbone of the surface fleet out to 2060. Current plans call for a class of 13 ships to be batch-procured 3 + 5 + 5 to replace the current Type 23s on a one-for-one basis in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and general purpose roles.
The Type 26 design developed during the programme’s assessment phase is a 7,000tonne displacement steel monohull with a length of 149m, a beam of 20.8m and a draught of 7.2m. It adopts a Combined Diesel Electric or Gas (CODLOG) machinery arrangement, intended to deliver a maximum speed in excess of 26knots and a range of 7,000nm at 15knots. The Type 26 will be operated by a core crew of 118. Accommodation on board will provide for up to 208 persons.
Key features of the ship design include an acoustically optimised hullform and propellers, and a flexible mission space. The latter is a large volume amidships that can accommodate and handle self-contained a variety of modular payloads (for example, boats for special forces, unmanned surface vehicles, or humanitarian relief supplies).
Combat system advancements
The Type 26 combat system architecture will build on that previously developed for the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and Type 45 destroyers, but will introduce advancements in the areas of shared network infrastructure, a shared computing environment, and a new-design common console. Furthermore, in order to reduce risk, contain cost and capitalise on previous investment and infrastructure, the Type 26 will maximise ‘pull-through’ from the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 capability upgrades (approximately 70% of combat system capability will be delivered through legacy and future legacy equipment cross-decking or capability migration).
One key new-to-type equipment will be the Maritime Indirect Fire System (MIFS), comprising a 5inch/127mm medium-calibre gun and an associated magazine ammunition handling system. Also baselined in the Type 26 design is a 24-cell vertical launcher or ‘Flexible Strike Silo’ offering the flexibility to take a wide mix of suitably qualified weapons (such as land attack missiles or surface-to-surface guided weapons).
The demonstration phase will run through to the end of March 2016. The programme is then planned subject to Main Gate 2 approval to transition into its Manufacture phase, with steel cutting expected to begin in Glasgow in 2016.
Demonstration phase activity covers additional engineering design work and investment provision to cover essential long-lead items for the first three Type 26 ships. This includes major ship equipments, as well as the creation of shore-based testing facilities.
In terms of the ship design itself, BAE Systems began Stage 2 modelling in September 2014. By the end of May 2015, ten out of the 12 ship design zones were in Stage 2; the remaining two the mast and hangar will have both transitioned by August 2015. Stage 3 outputs to support manufacturing are scheduled to start in March 2016.
Three separate shore test facilities are being funded under the Type 26 Demonstration Phase. The first of these, to be located at David Brown Gear Systems’ facility in Huddersfield, will allow testing (at full power and full torque) of the new cross-connect gearbox being developed by the company for the Type 26 CODLOG machinery arrangement.
A second shore test facility, known as the Electrical Integration Test Facility, will be established at GE Power Conversion’s Whetstone site. This will integrate what is effectively half a ship set of the entire Type 26 electrical power generation and propulsion system (including two MTU 20V 4000 M53B diesel generators, 690V and 440V switchboards, an electric propulsion motor, a set of converters, and power and propulsion management).
The third shore test site, known as the Combat System Land Based Integration Facility (LBIF), will be established at Portsdown Technology Park near Portsmouth. This facility will include the shared infrastructure and major combat system equipments destined for Type 26. Alongside the LBIF, the ongoing Type 23 capability sustainment programme which is rolling out shared infrastructure and introducing a number of new combat system equipments will play a significant role in de-risking the Type 26 combat system.
Intrinsic to the delivery of the Type 26 programme going forward is a wide-ranging business transformation initiative being rolled out across the BAE Systems Naval Ships business to improve efficiency, quality and safety. Intended to touch every aspect of the company’s approach to the engineering, design and manufacture process, it includes investment in new tools, facilities, technologies, and working practices.
For example, a new ‘maturity dashboard’ electronic tool has been adopted to enable programme stakeholders to share understanding of the design process. Used for the first time with the MoD in March for the purposes of a Zone Readiness Review, the maturity dashboard takes live feeds from the engineering dataset and presents an up-to-date report on the design status of specific ship zones.
Another innovation is the introduction of 3D visualisation technology which projects interactive virtual prototypes of ships in design onto a large screen. Developed in partnership with software house Virtalis, the system is able to generate a fully immersive 3D environment to facilitate rapid review of iterative design changes. A pilot visualisation suite was established at the Scotstoun site in early 2014. Such was its success that BAE Systems Naval Ships has now installed four more suites (another in Scotstoun, one in Govan, one at Portsmouth and one at Filton).
A third key transformation initiative, known as the Future Logistics Operating Model (FLOM), is already being used for the Batch 2 River class offshore patrol vessel programme. Under FLOM, the third party logistics and supply chain solutions provider Wincanton is providing logistics and warehousing services to BAE Systems in support of shipbuilding operations.
FLOM means that BAE Systems will no longer hold a large inventory of parts. Instead, working with BAE Systems’ planning teams, Wincanton will manage inbound scheduling and collection, and will also support the deployment of a new asset tracking process.
Build strategy options
The MoD and BAE Systems had been examining two different build strategies for Type 26, both based around facilities in Glasgow. The first option was to consolidate activity on a single redeveloped site at Scotstoun; the second was to make a more modest investment to upgrade existing facilities at both Govan and Scotstoun.
BAE Systems had for some time been inclined towards the single site option, identifying advantages with regard to reduced overhead, improved manufacture efficiency, faster build time, and a better working environment. However, in May this year the company revealed that, with the agreement of the MoD, it had changed its thinking and would go forward with plans to invest more than £100 million in the upgrade of both the Govan and Scotstoun sites, with Type 26 activity to be split between the two.
This change of heart came after a thorough examination of the cost, risk, return on investment and schedule impacts of the alternative single-site and two-site options. This work showed the costs of the single-site redevelopment at Scotstoun would have been some way above its initial £200 million estimate. Furthermore, the complexity of the construction project, alongside the taut programme schedule for Type 26 build, presented risks to programme delivery.
In a statement, BAE Systems said: “Following an assessment of potential facilities options, we have decided to retain and invest in both of our sites in Glasgow. Together with investments in new technologies, cutting-edge processes and new ways of working, improved infrastructure will play a key role in transforming the way we design and build complex warships. This will enable us to create a modern, safe and inspiring workplace for our employees, whilst ensuring we deliver equipment to the highest quality at the lowest possible cost so we can compete effectively for future UK and international orders.”
BAE Systems is now working with the MoD to further develop the detailed design of the upgraded facilities at the Govan and Scotstoun sites, taking into account production schedules of existing programmes, and capacity for potential future programmes. These detailed plans will form part of the Type 26 Manufacturing Phase proposal that will be submitted to the MoD later this year.