Political deals & management apathy sound death knell for Portsmouth shipbuilding

Criminal. Bloody criminal.

High politics ends Navy shipbuilding in Portsmouth

What would Nelson have made of it? Before Trafalgar he signalled “England Expects.” But it is the argument over Scotland’s independence that has left ship-building holed below the waterline in the Royal Navy’s headquarter port.

Most people who’ve lobbied hard for Portsmouth now believe the writing is on the wall.

I am told that the announcement has been brought forward to this morning due to leaks in the media.

Everyone expects it to be curtains for shipbuilding. Some wonder whether BAE may also lose some of the maintenance contract for the surface fleet, perhaps to Babcock.

It has become clear that while BAE is keen to work on low-risk ventures like the Type 26 it sees ship services, not ship building, as its future and so it is natural for them to rationalise facilities.

The only good news could be an impending city deal worth at least £100m to help widen the marine industry in Portsmouth, with Rolls Royce Marine, Qinetiq maybe involved. Perhaps private refit work could provide some income at Basin 3.

There have been radical ideas in the past. The Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, is Phillip Hammond’s PPS, a navy reservist and named after a warship, HMS Penelope!

Her ideas outlined in a letter to the Prime Minister included putting Royal Navy crews on commission, “sell what you sail and get a bonus”.

Considerations of the vote on Scottish independence seem to have trumped the hi-tech yard run by BAE in Portsmouth. The move of Vosper Thornycroft from Southampton to Portsmouth meant the kit was amongst the best in the world. But the Clyde carries more weight at the moment.

Nevertheless, the Royal Navy could still do well from new deals with Babcock. Perhaps the two ocean patrol vessels as well as 13 Type 26s – perhaps a permanent replacement for HMS protector or HMS Ocean’s successor.

Even Nelson could not have turned a blind eye to Alex Salmond. But there could still be plenty for Pompey to be proud of.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-24828616

Babcock to upgrade Royal Navy’s “final four” Trafalgar class submarines

There are currently five Trafalgar-class submarines left in service with the Royal Navy: HMS Tireless (commissioned 1985, scheduled to decommission 2014), HMS Torbay (commissioned 1987), HMS Trenchant (commissioned 1989), HMS Talent (commissioned 1990) and HMS Triumph (commissioned 1991). Babcock will be conducting work on CCSM to reduce near-term obsolescence for the “final four” boats only.

Babcock to upgrade Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class submarines’ CCSM system

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to Babcock to design and develop the first phase of the communications coherency for submarines (CCSM) system’s obsolescence update in support of the UK Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered submarine.

Upgrades to the CCSM system will address near-term obsolescence issues while enhancing the system’s life over the operational service of the final four Trafalgar-class submarines.

The CCSM modernisation programme will be performed in two stages, with the first involving an update to the hardware and software handling the military signal messages, while the second phase will address the legacy communications equipment routing infrastructure.

Currently, Babcock is developing and seeking suitable hardware and software with the authority as part of the contract, while the design is expected to be finalised in September 2013.

Babcock integrated system and support group director, Charles John, said: “Babcock is responsible for CCSM in-service support and is pleased to provide a solution that overcomes the obsolescence issues while minimising the disruption to the office infrastructure due to the CCSM design.”

The CCSM system has been designed by Babcock to provide enhanced capability for submarines to manage existing and future levels of message traffic and information such as the efficient using and sharing of information, as part of joint or coalition task force.

Initially deployed on to the Trafalgar-class submarines in 2005, the system has integrated existing independent autonomous systems into a single commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) based system architecture.

The improved processes of the system also enable rapid technology integration for maximum efficiency and cost benefits.
Acceptance trials for the CCSM system update is expected to be carried out in the company’s purpose-built Communications Shore Integration Facility (CSIF) at Devonport, UK, in January 2014.

www.naval-technology.com/news/newsbabcock-upgrade-royal-navys-submarines-ccsm-system

Final shipment of sections for HMS Queen Elizabeth

 

Mast cap and long range radar at Rosyth. This was the very final shipment of sections for HMS Queen Elizabeth. (Aircraft Carrier Alliance)

HMS Ocean undocks at Devonport, moves closer to sea trials

When Ocean completes her sea trials (a stunning 18-knots, don’t laugh) the clock will commence ticking on Lusty’s decommissioning. {sigh} It seems that tempus is well-and-truly fugiting.

The first of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers isn’t due to commence trials until 2017 and will not be operational until at least 2018, leaving the slow-moving Ocean as the Royal Navy’s only carrier of any sort… just helicopters, no Harriers… thanks SDR!

Still, BZ to the lads at Babcock’s for their work on Ocean.

Babcock marks key milestone as HMS Ocean undocks

HMS Ocean

An important milestone was reached today, 31 July, in the major upkeep and upgrade programme being carried out by Babcock on HMS Ocean when the amphibious assault ship (the Royal Navy’s largest ship) came out of dock at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard.

This significant milestone, achieved on-schedule after seven months in dock, comes about half way through HMS Ocean’s substantial 15 month upgrade and overhaul programme, which includes more than 60 upgrades, mechanical improvements and an extensive maintenance package. This massive upkeep period is around three times that of a typical Type 23 docking period in terms of volume of work, employing an average of 300 Babcock employees plus staff from over 70 contractor companies.

Today’s undocking marks the completion of the dock-dependent elements, including overhaul of all the ship’s underwater valves, application of the outer bottom foul release paint coating, survey and represervation of tanks, repair of several sea tubes, and maintenance on the ship’s main propulsion system, propellors, shafts, rudders and stabilisers, as well as the overhaul and test of the ship’s mooring capstans, among other work.

Work on HMS Ocean will now continue with the ship alongside. This will include habitability improvements to the crew’s and embarked military forces’ living quarters and refurbishment of the main galley, laundry and commissariat, enhancement of the ship’s fire detection system, and commissioning the main propulsion and auxiliary systems, as well as work on aircraft lifts and weapons equipment. Ship’s staff will move on board in early November, and HMS Ocean is expected to leave Devonport for sea trials in early 2014.

This upkeep is the first on an amphibious ship under the full implementation of the Surface Ship Support Alliance (SSSA) Class Output Management (COM) approach, under which Babcock leads the support of all amphibious vessels. Various approaches and measures are being applied by the COM team to optimise delivery, and achieve significant savings and efficiencies in the planning and execution of this major upkeep.

Babcock Warship Support Managing Director Mike Whalley commented: “This is a highly complex and challenging project both technically and in terms of project management, and we are delighted to have met this significant undocking milestone on schedule, thanks to hard work by all parties. There is still considerable work to be done, and the team will now focus on continuing to maintain this strong progress through the rest of the project, to deliver HMS Ocean safely, on-time, fully refurbished with improved capability and performance, at optimum value for money.”

Kevin Barry, the DE&S Destroyers and Amphibious Platforms Team Leader said: “I am particularly encouraged by the strong team ethos which has been vital to overcoming some significant challenges in getting to this project milestone. The fact that MoD, industry and RN teams are utilising the huge range of skills and experience they possess and working so effectively together is fundamental to delivery of such large and complex projects. We are now focused on successful delivery of this hugely capable and versatile platform back to the Fleet.”

The undocking of HMS Ocean today sees the ship leaving the newly developed 10 Dock facility at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard, which has undergone a significant investment and refurbishment programme to provide a first class facility to service the UK’s amphibious fleet.

http://www.babcockinternational.com/media-centre/babcock-marks-key-milestone-as-hms-ocean-undocks/

$531m contract to upgrade Canadian submarine force

The Royal Canadian Navy’s long-troubled Victoria class submarines require more work, more funds, and no doubt more grumbling in Ottawa’s corridors of power. While protecting jobs at the Esquimalt dockyard is a “good thing” these Victoria class boats are not going to be remembered with the same level of affection that the old Oberon class were.

New $531-million submarine contract protects 200 jobs at Esquimalt

The Harper government is set to announce a five-year, $531-million contract extension to repair and upgrade Canada’s fleet of four diesel-electric submarines. Photograph by: Handout , DND

OTTAWA — B.C.’s shipbuilding and repair industry will get a shot of good news Thursday when the Harper government announces a five-year, $531-million contract extension to repair and upgrade Canada’s fleet of four diesel-electric submarines, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The contract, following a similar agreement struck in 2008, will protect roughly 200 jobs at the department of national defence’s Fleet Maintenance Facility in Esquimalt, according to a federal official.

Another 200 jobs will be protected at locations elsewhere in Canada, he said.

“This significant federal investment will support more than 400 high-quality jobs, improve the long-term sustainability of B.C.’s shipbuilding industry and provide the best tools for Canada’s sailors,” he said in a prepared statement.

The contract was won in a competitive bid by Babcock Canada Inc., a subsidiary of the British multinational firm Babcock International Group PLC.

Babcock International won the original contract in 2008 after it teamed up with Weir Canada Inc. of Mississauga, Ont., to create a consortium called the Canadian Submarine Management Group.

However, Babcock announced in 2011 that CSMG would be renamed Babcock Canada Inc. after Weir’s share of the joint venture was transferred to Babcock.

The original contract award caused a political flap because Babcock beat out Irving Shipbuilding, which wanted to keep the repair work in Halifax.

One of the critics was Green party leader Elizabeth May, who at the time was planning her run against Defence Minister Peter MacKay in his Nova Scotia riding.

May, who accused the government of an “anti-Atlantic bias,” is now the MP for the Vancouver Island riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.

The original five-year contract in 2008 was worth $370 million over five years, but if CSMG met performance targets the contract was to be extended over 15 years, for a total value of up to $1.5 billion.

Thursday’s announcement gives a clear indication that Babcock has met those targets.

The fleet of four Victoria-class diesel-electric submarines has had a rocky history after the Liberal government made what appeared to be the bargain-basement purchase of the mothballed subs from the Royal Navy for $750 million in 1998.

It took far longer and was costlier than expected to make the vessels seaworthy, and in 2004 the HMCS suffered a fire that left one officer dead. In 2011, HMCS Corner Brook ran aground near Vancouver Island during manoeuvres.

There are now two subs, HMCS Victoria and HMCS Windsor, that are fully operational.

HMCS Chicoutimi is currently being serviced at Esquimalt but is expected to be ready for sea trials later this year.

The HMCS Corner Brook is also in Esquimalt for both repairs and a refit.

The fleet is “at the highest state of readiness that they’ve ever been,” the source said.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/million+submarine+contract+protects+jobs+Esquimalt/8613939/story.html

Royal Navy aircraft carrier almost complete as aft island lifted into place

Another step towards completion for the first of the Royal Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers as the aft island of HMS Queen Elizabeth is lifted into place. The carriers will carry a mixed air wing comprising the F-35B joint strike fighter and Merlin helicopters.

Queen Elizabeth almost complete as second island is installed on UK’s new carrier

If you want to know what the biggest warship Britain has ever built will look like, take a trip to Rosyth in Scotland, for today HMS Queen Elizabeth is almost complete.

The iconic aft superstructure of the Royal Navy’s next-generation aircraft carrier was today fixed firmly on her flight deck – all but completing the look of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The 753-tonne structure, which serves as the air traffic control centre for the 65,000-tonne warship, was lowered into place following a delicate all-night operation.

The carrier’s aft island stands proud on her flight deck after an all-night precision operation to first lift it, then fix the 753-tonne structure on to the deck.

It means the two iconic pieces of carrier superstructure – the ship is the first to feature the innovative two island design – are now firmly in place; the forward island, a few metres ahead, has been on the flight deck since April.

That is home to the ship’s bridge among other compartments.

The aft structure is home to Flyco – Flying Control, effectively the carrier’s equivalent of an airport control tower.

It’s 32m (104ft) long, 14m (46ft) wide and 31m (101ft 6in) high (that’s seven London buses stacked up). Inside are some 110 compartments, 1,000 pipes stretching for two kilometres and 44km (27 miles – or just longer than a marathon) of cabling.

It took engineers and shipwrights at BAE Systems Scotstoun works – one of half a dozen yards around the UK building sections of the carrier – 90 weeks to complete.

The island was ferried around Scotland on an ocean-going barge last week, before arriving at the Babcock yard in Rosyth to join the rest of the ship in the specially-extended dry dock which is home to the 65,000-tonne carrier.

“Moving this section is a momentous occasion for the carrier programme,” said Ian Booth of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, which is overseeing the massive project.

“Queen Elizabeth now has a completely unique and distinctive profile and, thanks to the dedication of thousands of workers she will be structurally complete by the end of the year.”

The team from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance invited all the major media players to witness the gigantic structure being lowered into place with millimetric accuracy, billing the occasion as ‘the creation of a carrier’.

“This is a very significant moment in the making of the ship, particularly as she’s an aircraft carrier, because the guys working in the aft island will be operating and controlling all of the aviation activity on this flight deck,” Queen Elizabeth’s Senior Naval Officer Capt Simon Petitt told those present at the lifting ceremony.

“Once we’re fully operational, we will be flying helicopters and jets from all three Services to use the power of the air and the freedom of the ocean to influence those on the land – and that’s the advantage of an aircraft carrier.”

At 10.10am precisely, to the cacophony of apprentices sounding air horns, they saw just that as the island settled on the flight deck, sealing a plaque featuring the insignia of the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army beneath it.

For although she flies the White Ensign, Queen Elizabeth – and her sister Prince of Wales – are national assets, for use by all three Services.

The F35 Lightning II jets which will be her primary punch will be flown by the Fleet Air Arm and RAF. But her deck will also be used by Army Apaches and troop-carrying Chinooks and Merlins ferrying soldiers and Royal Marines into battle.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the centre of the UK’s defence capability for 50 years,” said Rear Admiral Steve Brunton, Director of Ship Acquisition.

“She will be absolutely unique and, combined with assets across the rest of the UK’s Armed Forces, will provide the country with an unprecedented level of capability, protecting the UK’s interests and providing humanitarian support across the globe.”

That’s a good five years in the future. For now there remains a lot of work to do to complete Queen Elizabeth internally and externally.

Although all sections of the ship have been delivered to Rosyth, not all have been attached – most notably her ‘ski ramp’ which will help the F35s into the air as the same structure did for Harriers on the Invincible class of carriers.

It will be attached later this year.

Compartments inside are being ‘signed off’ (ie completed) every week and work will soon begin to give Queen Elizabeth a Royal Navy livery instead of the ship’s mostly crimson paint scheme at present.

In a few weeks’ time, the team from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance will begin to give the carrier her battleship grey appearance; right now she’s a mish-mash of colours, with the flight deck a very un-RN-like crimson.

The ship will require 1½ million square metres (over 16 million square feet) of paintwork, which is slightly larger than London’s Hyde Park.

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/June/28/130628-QE-island