Navy ships turn to civil designs

Off-the-shelf parts and standard steel sections will revolutionise warship construction and slash costs

For the first time in its history, the Navy is to introduce civil shipbuilding practices and rules into the design, construction and maintenance of Britain’s future warships.

The rules will allow widely available standard steel sections and off-the-shelf equipment to be used with commercial shipyard practices to slash the cost and delivery times of new warships.

Future Navy vessels will also borrow passenger ship technology to make them safer, less polluting, more comfortable and less noisy for the crew.

The rules have been drawn up by merchant ship classification body Lloyd’s Register. They will make warship procurement more transparent by forcing Naval architects to limit the amount of `one-off’ special designs for new warships to electronics and weapons systems.

This will open up tenders to a wider range of commercial steel suppliers, shipyards and equipment suppliers around the world, Lloyd’s claimed.

Lloyd’s will also act as an independent assessor for new Navy designs to ensure they are cost effective. It will take over the role of policing the construction of warships.

Coupled with the new design and build rules, the independent assessment will ensure greater consistency in quality between vessels built at different yards, according to Lloyd’s.

The biggest savings on warship design will come from the use of widely available cheap standard steel sections.

`In the past the Navy would ask a steel mill to produce purpose-made sections for a particular ship which were very expensive. Now they will be able to procure standard sections from steel mills around the world,’ a Lloyd’s spokesman said.

The use of commercial off-the-shelf equipment, such as pumps and motors, will also reduce warship construction costs and cut the time it takes to obtain spare parts.

The first warships to benefit from the new rules are likely to be the Type 45 destroyers. The Australian, Canadian and Dutch navies are said to be interested in adopting similar procurement rules.

Equipment suppliers are set to gain from standardisation of warship design and use of civilian construction technology

Copyright: Centaur Communications Limited