EXCLUSIVE: Cost of acquisition of Type 23 frigates to be deactivated
September 27, 2018 6466 75 Type 23 Royal Navy frigates at Passex in the Middle East
By Roberto Lopes
and Alexandre Galante
Two sources from the Brazilian Marine Material and Programs (MB) sectors say that the Force has not yet received any indication that the Royal Navy will even anticipate the dropping of two Type 23 frigates (class "Duke" ") As a means of securing resources to keep Albion Class dockers in operation, as speculated by the London press.
But to the Naval Power that investigates the subject, draws attention the great amount of information "unofficial" that MB already met on the costs of absorption of these ships.
According to what the PN was able to calculate:
If the British MoD approves the start of Type 23 deactivation, the first to leave the active would be HMS Argyll (F231) and HMS Lancaster (F229);
Not incidentally, none of these vessels entered the modernization program for the propulsion of this class of ships, which provides for the receipt of the new MTU 12V-4000 M53B diesel engines;
In any case, it must be borne in mind that these are not "scrapped" ships - far from it. According to information obtained by MB, both were submitted to a large PMG, which aimed to extend the life of the hull and superstructure, by reinforcing and replacing plates;
The same PMG considered Argyll and Lancaster with the necessary modifications (1) to the launch of the MBDA Sea Ceptor anti-aircraft missile; (2) the operation of a new combat system; (3) the operation of the standard armaments on the English surface fleet and the sensors attached thereto, which includes ARTISAN radar;
The bad news: a priori, if these two frigates are effectively decommissioned, all modern equipment will be removed, to be reinstalled in other units of the RN;
Assuming that MB wishes to reintroduce all systems, sensors and weapons removed, and is successful in this negotiation, placing four MTU 4000 diesel engines on each frigate will require the disbursement of 40 million pounds (about 211.7 million of Reais) per vessel, that is, a total of 80 million pounds (equivalent today to 423.4 million Reais);
However, this amount refers only to the modernization claimed by the Argyll and Lancaster vessels. It does not include the acquisition values of the ships themselves, nor the training costs of the Brazilian crews nor the role of supplies (spares). Such amounts are not yet available. They will only be announced to the Brazilian admirals, in case the MoD confirms the demise of the units;
It should also be noted that the Royal Navy will not waive the requirement that buyers of Type 23 frigates carry out the modernization they require on British territory. As a result of this, an official friend of this blog estimated: the total cost of acquisition of the two (modernized) vessels can jump from 80 to 160 million pounds (approximately 846.8 million Reais).
ReorganizationThe MTU 20V-4000 M53B diesel engine - Photo: Rolls Royce
Originally designed for a 30-year life with upgrades, all 13 frigates are undergoing life extension (LIFEX) reforms and an important component of these upgrades is the PGMU (Power Generation Machinery Upgrade) to replace the four diesel generator sets of ships.
The Type 23 LIFEX program is being run by the Surface Ship Support Alliance (a partnership between MoD, Babcock and BAE Systems) and started in June 2015, when HMS Argyll was taken to Devonport. By June 2018, HMS Argyll, Westminster, Montrose, Northumberland and Kent had already completed the LIFEX reforms.
The most obvious external change is the installation of the CAAM Sea Ceptor missile system to replace the old Sea Wolf GWS-26, but the adjustments also include major changes in equipment, combat system, cold water systems and work to extend the life span of the hull and superstructure.
Unfortunately, the first ships to be submitted to LIFEX have not received the new engines and will have to wait until the next major refurbishment. HMS Richmond will be the first vessel to be upgraded for machinery and is currently halfway to its retirement in Devonport. The work also began at LIFEX of HMS Portland and HMS Lancaster in Devonport.
The LIFEX upgrade of each Type 23 is costing at least £ 35 million per ship, not including the PGMU. Totaling around £ 600 million for this work on the frigate fleet, this is a much needed and worthwhile investment, but could have been greatly reduced had type 26 frigates been ordered earlier.
The older Type 23 HMS Argyll and HMS Lancaster should not receive the PGMU. Assuming they survive future defense cuts, they will have to continue with their Paxman diesel engines until they leave service in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The project is set to be completed in 2024, when the last of the other 11 ships receive their new engines.
The first of the new MTU 12V 4000 M53B diesel generators was delivered to the Devonport Naval Base in late 2016 for installation at HMS Richmond. The new generator sets are manufactured in Germany by MTU (a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce's Land & Sea division) and supply 1.65 MW each. This will give the ship an approximately 20% increase in power available for onboard guns, sensors and electronic components, as well as for cruise propulsion.
The MTU 4000 generator sets have specialized mounting and are surrounded by an acoustic cabinet, ensuring low levels of irradiated noise, critical for antisubmarine warfare - Photo: Rolls Royce
The old Paxman Valenta 12 RP2000CZ diesel project dates back to the 1960s and is becoming more and more maintenance intensive. They are rated at 1.3MW but have output power as low as 1MW in hot climates. The new diesel engines work best under hot conditions and will drastically reduce maintenance time and cost of operation.
The MTU 4000 generator sets include sophisticated noise reduction and shock resistance measures and are exceptionally reliable. The PGMU project presented a considerable engineering challenge as the new equipment had to adapt to existing structural and compartment constraints and integrated with the vessel's services and systems.
The PGMU project comprises 5 separate components (which DE & S bid on 'lots'); diesel generators, power conversion equipment, electrical switchboards, the machine control and surveillance system (MCAS) and integration work. A £ 68 million contract was signed by DE & S with MTU to supply the 48 generator sets in April 2015. The contract includes a complete package of logistics, spare parts and initial training. HMS Sultan, RN's mechanical engineering training facility, will receive electronic equipment and manuals so it can provide relevant training for MEs that meet the updated Type 23.
Hitzinger UK won a £ 12 million contract for voltage converters and Rolls-Royce signed a £ 18 million contract in January 2016 to deliver the updated MCAS. Babcock Marine and Technology is responsible for integrating the new systems onboard ships and has been awarded a £ 3.6 million contract for this task. The project includes the installation of 600 meters of new pipes on each ship along with more than 8 km of new cables. The Upper Auxiliary Machinery Room (UAMR) and Advanced Auxiliary Machinery Rooms (FAMR) need to be almost completely removed and new foundations of machines and outlets and pickling must be installed.
The new Type 23 propulsion package will not only improve ship availability, fuel efficiency and available power but will also provide a useful experience for the RN since similar MTU generator sets are being fitted with future Type frigates 26.
Although the Type 26 is an evolution of the Type 23 propulsion system, there are significant differences. Type 23 used a CODLAG - Combined Diesel Electrical AND Gas Turbine arrangement.
Both the engines that drive the generator sets and Spey gas turbines need to be online to reach full speed. The Type 26 is CODELOG - CODELOG Combined Diesel-Electric OR Gas Turbine. The single MT-30 gas turbine alone is sufficient to drive the ship at full speed without the need for the engines, and in that way the generator sets can supply power purely to the electrical needs of the ships.
Although the Type 23 Spey gas turbines do not, the new MTU propulsion system meets the requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) III emission directive. Compliance with civilian emissions standards is a challenge to the unique requirements of warships, but it is obviously desirable to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
The RN has used several new hydrodynamic features to minimize drag on its hulls. These were incorporated into the design phase of modern Type 45 ships, aircraft carriers and Type 26, but the older Type 23 ships underwent some service modifications including self-polishing antifouling coatings on the hull and propeller blades, stern wedges and better propeller designs.
It is intended that Type 26 frigates will be fully compliant with IMO's MARPOL (NOx Nitrogen Oxide) regulations and will be equipped with a SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system along with the efficient MTU4000 20V diesel generators and MT Gas Turbines -30.
See the chart below (click on the image to enlarge) the schedule for the new Type 26 / Type 31 and Type 23 deactivation.