Babcock completes a Gulf support first in Bahrain

Babcock has successfully delivered a first for the Sandown Volvo Generator Programme (SVGP), fitting the new generator sets in HMS Penzance as part of a deployed support period in Bahrain during her Gulf deployment.

SVGP replaces the now aging Perkins CV8 diesel generators with the modern, efficient and more environmentally friendly Volvo Penta D13 Marine diesel generator set.  The programme is rolling through all seven Sandown class mine countermeasure vessels in a fast paced 18 month period, easing the maintenance loading while improving diesel generator reliability and therefore platform availability.  HMS Bangor was the first of class to be fitted with new generators during a dry dock support period undertaken by Babcock at Rosyth last year.  The modification design work has been delivered by Babcock’s Design Management Services team, ensuring all aspects of the design are well considered to fit the new generator footprint; from compartment air flow, fuel and lubrication oil system integration to control interfaces and exhaust compatibility. 

The success of this fit programme has enabled experience to be captured and measures taken to allow remaining fits to be undertaken outside docked support periods, extending regular support periods by one week for the purpose. This was successfully proven in HMS Pembroke during her support period undertaken by Babcock in Rosyth in autumn 2014.

The latest SVGP installation is now complete in HMS Penzance, the third Sandown class minehunter to receive the new generator set.  The fit was achieved whilst deployed in the Gulf operating areas and was overlaid with other key work packages, including an air conditioning plant improvement package and other support period maintenance work.  In-theatre engineering support was delivered by the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) in Bahrain as the shipyard of choice to complete the support period. 

The Babcock-led Sandown Class Output Management (COM) team (under the Surface Ship Alliance between the MoD, Babcock and BAE Systems) provided project management and key technical oversight for the support period, including the SVGP fit and other docking activities.  These included emergent and additional work to address the extreme climatic effects on the minehunters deployed in the Gulf environment, including optimising the air conditioning, suppressing marine growth, and addressing upper deck paintwork requirements as well as the removal and overhaul of hull valves and inspection, cleaning and re-preservation of sea tubes, salt water strainers and machinery coolers.

Commenting on the project, Babcock Sandown COM Team Leader Ambrose McDonough said: “There were a number of challenges in successfully delivering this project, not least overseeing it at a distance of over 3000 miles from the UK support infrastructure, in addition to the engineering challenges themselves.  Extensive investment in developing robust and efficient communications was critical to success, and a very effective partnership was developed from the start between the COM Project team and the deployed DE&S Warship Support Project Sponsor, as well as the very supportive collaboration developed early with the ASRY engineering teams.  We have kept all stakeholders informed of progress on all stages and all elements of the projects, which has been well received both in the Gulf theatre and in the UK, confirming Babcock as being ‘trusted to deliver’.”

Strategic Class Authority Team Leader, Captain Giulian Hill Royal Navy, said: “This has been a complex project requiring close collaboration between DE&S Warship Support, Babcock Sandown COM, UKMCC and ASRY.  This is an RN first and this project will help inform the overall approach to Gulf Engineering Support, demonstrating our ability to provide a high level of engineering ‘support at reach’ to the Fleet.“

HMS Penzance docked in ASRY, Bahrain, in January, and the project was successfully completed ahead of schedule in February 2015.