Rolls-Royce secures navy contracts

Rolls-Royce has secured two separate contracts worth a total of £9.5m to supply propulsion and motion control systems to the French and South Korean navies.

The French order, worth £7.5m, is for the supply of podded propulsion equipment and stabilising fins for the latest French Navy Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, expected to enter service in 2012. This follows a contract to supply podded propulsors and stabilisers on the first two ships in the class: Mistral and Tonnerre.

The group’s Mermaid Pod is a propulsor and steering device incorporating two electric motors housed within two steel pods that are mounted on the hull of the ship. The pods act as a rudder to steer the ship, while a motor supplied by French power conversion group Converteam will drive the propeller.

The system incorporates stabilising fins that are retractable and can be deployed from their housing in the ship’s hull during rough sea conditions. Once deployed, the stabilisers pivot to counteract the roll of the sea to lift the vessel in a similar way to an aircraft wing.

The podded propulsors will be manufactured in the Rolls-Royce facility in Kristinehamn, Sweden, and the stabilisers will be produced at the company’s Dunfermline facility in Scotland. The final assembly of the pod propulsors will take place in Converteam’s Rotating Machines factory in Nancy, France.

A second £2m contract will see the company supply azimuth thrusters to four South Korean navy tugboats. These thrusters, supplied in pairs to the tug boats, are a configuration of a ship’s propeller that can rotate through 360 degrees on a vertical axis, allowing for greater manoeuvrability than a traditional propeller and rudder system.

John Yi, the company’s naval sales manager for north-east Asia, said: ‘The Republic of Korea Navy continues its impressive programme to renew its fleet and I’m delighted that Rolls-Royce technology continues to play a key role in the modernisation of the country’s naval capability.

‘Our gas turbine technology has already proved a success on the KDX III destroyer programme and this latest order broadens the range of products we are delivering to customers in Korea.’

The four tugboats, which are the first in an initial batch of six ships, will be built in the Hanook Shipyard and are due to enter service in 2011.