Leonardo DRS has been awarded a contract by Eastern Shipbuilding to provide the hybrid electric drive (HED) system for the US Coast Guard’s second Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), the company announced on 15 January.
Under the contract, Leonardo DRS will provide its high-performance, permanent magnet motor-based Auxiliary Propulsion System. This integrated HED system provides capability for the ship to operate much more efficiently at slower speeds, increases mission duration capability, reduces emissions and provides emergency take-home capability in the event of a failure of the main propulsion diesel engines. When coupled to the main propulsion gearbox, the system allows the ship to operate quietly and efficiently during loitering operations, while providing superior fuel economy for increased on-station operations and capability.
“Our hybrid electric drive will offer crews of these new ships operational flexibility when they need it, while significantly increasing cost savings in yearly maintenance and fuel,” explained Senior Program Manager for DRS Naval Power Systems, Christine Borglin. “As we move from design and development onto production of the first HED system, and now to this second drive, we are proud to continue to be a part of the Eastern Shipbuilding team for this vital program.”
The Auxiliary Propulsion System is designed and built by Leonardo DRS, a leader in HED propulsion technology for naval applications. The system includes two of the most power-dense permanent magnet motors currently available. They have significant advantages in size, weight, efficiency and performance over conventional electric induction motors and produce more torque from the same amount of supplied current. Their smaller footprint allows greater flexibility in engine room design and increased cargo space, and their simpler, more rugged construction results in proven reliability and durability.
Using propulsion diesel engines at slow speeds adds significant wear and tear on the engines and increases the potential for coking/wet stacking. By adding this electric Auxiliary Propulsion System, the Coast Guard will have a built-in advantage of reducing not only fuel and maintenance requirements, but total lifecycle costs and increased safety for the fleet.