Enhancing naval fleet flexibility
Big ticket naval contracts always attract attention, but the rise of asymmetric threats from terrorists, hijackers, hostile but non-belligerent states and cybercriminals are combining to demand ever-increasing flexibility in 'grey’ ship design.
The need for flexibility has been much in evidence in 2019. The German Navy, for example, characterises its much anticipated Multi-purpose Combat Ship 180 as an 'all-rounder’, with built-in modules for specific military missions. In June, meanwhile, Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri launched the Italian Navy's first Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ship at the Muggiano (La Spezia) yard. The P430 vessel will need to fulfil duties as diverse as patrols, surface combat, anti-piracy, monitoring, protection and control of maritime zones, and rescue of personnel in distress.
Multi-role navy ship and boat design is a core area for Europort 2019, which this year offers a specific focus on the 'smart’ business, people and technology themes that are changing the maritime world. The biennial event, staged at the Rotterdam Ahoy Centre (November 5-8th), is the only global maritime conference and exhibition dedicated to special ships of all types.
A significant part of Europort’s pulling power draws on its strong roots in naval ship design and construction, backed with participation by a network of high-tech systems suppliers, skilled professionals and academic expertise. In fact, 56% of Europort exhibitors do business with naval customers. Understandably, one of Europort’s highly popular Masterclasses for 2019 is set to explore the theme of 'Naval innovations as source of inspiration’.
Some innovations in evidence at Europort 2019 will require engagement with the abstractions of the modular technologies that give navies today the operational flexibility they require without compromising core vessel capabilities. For example, the Masterclass will see RH Marine Portfolio Manager Integrated Bridge, Marcel Vermeulen, emphasize how integrated virtual systems architecture can increase flexibility in onboard systems and simplify obsolescence management.
However, naval ships already represent some of the most sophisticated vessels afloat in terms of more tangible attributes, with flexibility required through-life on the water. Electrical systems, for example, must be capable of coping with extreme situations while still functioning at peak effectiveness. Here, Europort exhibitor Alewijnse comes to the event ready to offer insights into a major electrical midlife upgrade for a series of Portuguese frigates.
A more tangible example still of the design flexibility now required comes via Netherlands’ Defense Material Organization (DMO), which recently contracted Europort exhibitor Damen to design and build a prototype expeditionary survey boat (ESB) for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The ESB will be optimized for rapid environmental assessments and hydrographic surveys shallow waters, coastal areas and shipping channels but must also be capable of being transported in davits on board larger logistics support vessels. As a result, it needs to be limited to 15.7m in length and 24 tons in weight but still be able to carry a full suite of hydrographic equipment and incorporate ballistic protection around the wheelhouse, engine room and the gun positions.
For more information about the Europort 2019 Masterclass 'Naval innovations as source of inspiration', click here.