Mönch US correspondent Marty Kauchak is attending the 2018 Surface Navy Association 30th Annual National Symposium in Arlington, Virginia. He files this mid-day report with highlights from the exhibition floor and conference rooms.
George Awiszus, Director of Military Marine Marketing at GE’s Marine Solutions (GE), (Booth #320), offered an in-depth update on numerous developments occurring across the major portions of his company’s portfolio.
Mr. Awiszus initially noted GE, “is the world leader in providing propulsion power to the world’s surface fleet. GE takes this responsibility seriously by ensuring we offer the right gas turbine power options, keep advancing technology and provide superior maintenance and service.”
With respect to GE’s presence at SNA, the company is available to discuss a new product introduction (lightweight LM2500 marine gas turbine) – a lightweight composite module which reduces the enclosure weight by 2,500kg (5,512 lbs) and reduces life cycle costs. “Other new developments include the LM6000 gas turbine naval certification, introduction of an electric start system for our entire marine gas turbine portfolio and the work that we are doing in Digital to help optimise equipment asset and operational performance,” he added.
Among current and prospective business opportunities in the maritime domain, he particularly emphasised: “The LM2500 family of proven engines with our best in class power density are the right sized gas turbines to power the new United States new FFG(X)-class frigate.”
The marine gas turbine expert added: “These themes are displayed in our show panels and presentation. Some are also included in ‘Building on a Marine Power Legacy’ which contains our product specifications, experience list and key new program summaries.”
Mr. Awiszus then discussed in detail, recent and planned LM2500 deliveries through 2018, first, from the perspective of the US market. In the DDG 51-class, GE recently shipped gas turbines to Huntington Ingalls for the US Navy’s 75th DDG 51 destroyer JACK H. LUCAS (DDG 125). When SNA convened, GE’s Marine Solutions had delivered 300 of its proven LM2500 marine gas turbines, which are made in the US, to support the DDG 51 programme. Elsewhere, “we were just awarded LOUIS H. WILSON JR. (DDG 126) and GARY L. REHM JR. (DDG 127) contracts with General Dynamics Marine Systems, Bath Iron Works. For LCSs, we soon will deliver to Austal USA engines that will power the LCS 28, an INDEPENDENCE-class variant. We expect an order for LCS 30 in 2018.”
Deliveries are also expected for BOUGAINVILLE (LHA 8) and USCG National Security Cutter #9. LM2500 deliveries are further planned overseas for the Indian Navy’s P17A-class frigate programme (keel laid for first ship of the class last 31 December) and the Italian Navy’s offshore multi-purpose patrol PPA-class programme (keel laid for the first ship of the class last May).
In the LM500 product line, last October the Republic of Korea Navy, took delivery of the first ship of the PKX-B CHAMSURI II-class Patrol Boat, a 220-ton fast vessel that can attain speeds over 40 knots (16 total ships envisioned for the programme). “It is powered by two 4.6 MW [megawatt] LM500 gas turbines. GE helped to realize a 45% reduction in size and weight of the LM500 propulsion system from its PKX-A predecessor by optimising the package and gas turbine auxiliary systems; including employment of an electric start system.”
Further, GE is focused on prospective business opportunities in the US and overseas. “The US Navy has announced plans to purchase up to 20 new frigates [New Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X))] that are more lethal than the present LCS ships,” Mr. Awiszus said and emphasised, “GE has the right size engines with proven experience to propel these ships: all of the world’s commissioned frigates, with speeds less than 40 knots, employ gas turbines of 35 MW or less. GE also meets the Navy’s top requirements for the ship by having a best in class power density (frigates are often weight and size constrained) and the only gas turbine that has been shock tested (grade A shock). We have gas turbines on a number of considered frigate platforms that have demonstrated experience at sea, and are working with the shipyards to continue to provide propulsion solutions; a number are interested in our lightweight composite module and electric start products.”
Overseas, GE is working with various shipyards to support the use of their proven ship designs in various frigate competitions in Australia and Canada, as well as new designs in Spain, Finland, Germany and other countries.
Mr. Awiszus completed the exhibition floor meeting by summarising GE’s technology thrusts.
The value proposition for advancing the previously mentioned lightweight LM2500 marine gas turbine composite module is based on the US Navy’s needs. The industry expert explained: “Naval ships are typically weight and volume constrained. These challenges have magnified in recent years as mission requirements have increased such as the addition of weapons, radar, capability (anti-submarine, etc.). The US Navy and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works are co-sponsors of the LM2500 module modernization programme with the added objective to reduce life cycle cost associated with the repair of corroding steel components. Our plan is to have the composite enclosure ready for 2019 shipments with first applications being DDG 51s. It strongly aligns with the US FFG(X) frigate requirements. In fact, the US Navy has power density as a top product attribute for its new FFG(X) frigate programme.”
And while the composite enclosure will feature a 2,500kg wall weight reduction, it will also offer one piece composite carbon fibre construction, improved access, and improved sound attenuation. “The first enclosure is built and ready for final verification tests,” he added. A number of other US and international programmes have expressed significant interest in employing.
GE is using the introduction of the LM2500 composite enclosure as an opportunity to update a number of module components such as transducers, heaters and ice detectors.
In 2018, the community will hear more about GE’s LM6000 gas turbine and suitability for new programmes. There are two models, 46 and 53 MW to which GE received naval certification in 2015 after engine and module testing. “This is not a new engine,” Mr. Awiszus pointed out, and continued, “Its introduction into marine applications is based on GE’s philosophy of leveraging industrial engines after significant operation in comparable industrial applications. In contrast, aero engines have fans and different loadings than industrial and marine applications. In the case of the industrial LM6000 there are 1,300 engines in service with over 33 million operating hours. Minor changes are made to blade coatings for marine environments. The competition does not have significant industrial experience and their marine engine differs from the aero and industrial versions in that it employs a new free power turbine.”
GE will also bring to market digital advances this year. Built on Predix, the operating systemme for the Industrial Internet, Asset Performance Management, this effort enables intelligent asset strategies using “digital twins” to balance traditionally competing priorities—reducing cost, improving availability and reliability, and managing risk—to help optimise the operator’s overall asset and operational performance. “GE’s Predix platform, solutions, and services will demonstrate industry changing technologies such as digital twin, remote monitoring, and digital thread with edge-to-cloud computing in 2018,” Mr. Awiszus added. The company also anticipates increased sales of LM2500 electric motor starters which originated in 2017 on the Italian PPA programme.
And finally, “watch for other power density improvements as we continue to improve our best-in-class offerings,” Mr. Awiszus concluded.