Friday, May 11, 2012

Type 26: propulsion and mission bay

The by-now well known 2012 design for the Type 26 had caused debate on this blog already from the release of the first, very short, video, when we noticed the two large doors for boats on a side of the superstructure, an uncommon arrangement that immediately caught the eye.

The suspect, that appears to be confirmed, albeit not officially, is that the mission bay of the frigate has been relocated amidship, into the superstructure, in an arrangement adjacent to the helicopter hangar.
This is probably due to the reduction in sizes of the vessel, which started as a well over 6000 tons giant of roughly 150 meters and went down to 5500 tons and 141 meters.
The difference might not seem dramatic at first, but it is very significant, and it is likely to have made complex, if not impossible, to fit a meaningful mission bay in the hull, under the flight deck. The presence of the mission bay in a shorter hull was likely to affect the design and push the flight deck up, an undesirable development that can affect rough-weather helicopter operations.
One of the most interesting designs proposed in the Future Surface Combatant history, the FC65 frigate, which was to be capable of over 35 knots of speed among other things, had a mission deck 40 meters long and 12 wide, with stern ramp, but the ship was around 150 meters long and 6600 tons. It is clear that, if the ship goes smaller, solutions have to be different. 

So the Type 26 is now likely not to have a stern ramp for boats, but will instead probably fitted with the "grabber" arm used on the Type 45.

HMS Daring's "grabber" crane

The mission bay in the superstructure is not a new concept either. It appeared already during the endless effort for the Future Surface Combatant programme, and was an important part of the Thales C2 concept and of the F2020 frigate design they showed in 2006/07.
Online, not much material is left of that stage and design proposal, but thankfully, the excellent Navy Matters website comes to our aid, and thanks to Richard Beedall's hard work, we still have this very interesting graphic:

Image courtesy of Navy Matters - we miss you and your wonderful work, Navy Matters!

This modular mission bay space, adjacent to the helicopter hangar, goes probably very close to the concept behind the current Type 26 design shown by BAE.

We can only estimate sizes of the reconfigurable space, and try to guess its configuration. From the BAE videos, knowing that the current Type 26 lenght is 141 meters, i've tried making a few rough estimates.

The mission bay is likely to be a prosecution of the hangar, and could stretch over 26 meters in lenght past it, at least on the starboard side, where there's two boat doors. On Port side, the bay could be shorter, and stop at 14 meters or so past the hangar. The presence of the funnel means that the mission bay is not full width for all its lenght, but for probably around 14 meters or so past the end of the hangar.
The hangar has probably two storage/maintenance areas to its sides, which can be considered part of the mission bay. I've drawn a quick sketch schematics to depict the (possible) general outline of this important part of the vessel.

Quick and awful sketch showing the possible general outline and arrangement of spaces in the hangar / mission bay

Regarding the propulsion, barring dramatic changes that for now are not on the horizon, the CODLOG configuration seems by now the chosen path, with 4 High Speed Diesel engines connected to two electric motors driving the 2 shafts while cruising at up to 18 knots speed, with a single gas turbine in direct drive, used for sprints of speed over 26 knots.
I had been earlier wondering what gas turbine would eventually be fitted: WR-21 like on the Type 45, or MT30 like on CVF, LCS and Zumwalth DDG-1000?

According to Warship Technology, the answer is probably MT30: Rolls Royce is working on its top-class gas turbine to design a "compact" variant, which is seen as a leading contender for the propulsion of Type 26, in addition to being a Rolls Royce instrument for gaining an even greater foothold on the international market, beating General Electrics competition. The MT30 compact, in fact, is smaller (although over 30 tons in weight) and fits in the same spaces of the GE LM2500 turbine which powers ships such as the FREMM frigates: a clear attempt of Rolls Royce to further erode GE's market share.

MT30 package, mechanical drive configuration. - Rolls Royce

The MT30 produces 36 MW of power at 38° C and 40 MW at 15° C, while being also able to maintain efficiency even when reducing the output at 25.5 MW.
In its current form, it comes in a package weighting 27.8 tons, 8.56 meters long, 3.540 meters wide and 3.32 meters high.
The LM2500 is a bit smaller (22.7 tons, 2 meters width, 2.4 meters height) but only arrives to 35.3 MW in its latest version, and the MT30 is just at the start of its growth.

Rolls Royce aims for export successes by qualifying the MT30 Compact to civilian standards so to avoid export regulations, particularly US ones. Japan and the US themselves, for the Arleigh Burke destroyers of the future Flight III and eventual future batches, are seen as possible customers.

The Type 26 could get a propulsion package with MTU high speed diesels and the Rolls Royce gas turbine, offering excellent performances and some commonality with the CVF's own propulsion plant.


  1. something tells me, we will end up with a very exspensive hulk, and even fewer hulls, and not much defence.why oh why are the british going down this exspesive road,

  2. ...?
    So far, there's very little in the Type 26 program i don't agree with. For the moment, we are seeing coherent decisions, and the right level of ambition: no gold plating, no pharaonic technology revolutions, and use of the Type 23 midlife upgrade to fund, develop, introduce and validate key technology elements, from the radar to the sonar to the SAM missile.
    And the design seems to be evolving in the right direction.

  3. likelyhood of the mission bay being able to hold something as large as a CB90?

  4. A CB90 is pretty large. I do not think there are much chances. I think the limit is the 12 meters long RHIBs.
    At nearly 16 meters of lenght and almost 4 in beam, the CB90 takes quite a lot of space. I don't think it's feasible.

  5. Whats this fascination with gas turbines to power ships?
    Especialy since Daring will use a diesel electric 95% of the time.

    The T26 is going to be pointlessly short legged just to squeeze a couple of extra knots out of it.

  6. The type 26 should be a good ship, its supposed to be using already proven technology and therefore should be very cost effective. As for the land attack role i personally feel this should have come from the type 45 which was supposed to be a very expensive ship with all round capabilities. Leaving the type 26 to be a smaller, cheaper vessel able to provide self defence from both air and sea threats with the primary role of anti-submarine warfare.

    Then all the royal navy needed was a patrol vessel/corvette of the size 2000-3000 tons that could cope with tasks such as countering piracy, though with room to add more sophisticated systems at a later date if needed for more difficult tasks.

    Though with current procurement methods and waste there's no way that the royal navy will have sufficient vessels for escort of 2 carriers plus other tasks. With only 6 destroyers be lucky to have 4 fit for use at any given time.

  7. "Then all the royal navy needed was a patrol vessel/corvette of the size 2000-3000 tons that could cope with tasks such as countering piracy, though with room to add more sophisticated systems at a later date if needed for more difficult tasks."

    The 2/3000 tons vessel is coming from 2018 in the form of MHPC, which will replace the minesweepers with global-range patrol corvettes with MCM drones.

    "With only 6 destroyers be lucky to have 4 fit for use at any given time."

    The Type 45 fleet is expected to generate 5 ships on average.

    "Whats this fascination with gas turbines to power ships?
    Especialy since Daring will use a diesel electric 95% of the time.

    The T26 is going to be pointlessly short legged just to squeeze a couple of extra knots out of it."

    It is a proven system, that works. It is effective and cost effective compared to other alternatives. And Type 26, for what we know, will not at all be short legged: the target is 7000 naval miles between replenishment, with up to 11500 naval miles of autonomy at 15 knots.
    It will also carry supplies for 60 days, minimizing the need for visits to ports or RFA vessels.

    Cannot agree with your point there.

  8. I don't agree with the MPHC concept, personally i feel a minesweeper should be a dedicated vessel. Take the LCS of the US navy for example its a ship trying to do too many things which increases costs and doesn't do a great job at anything.

    "The Type 45 fleet is expected to generate 5 ships on average."

    Seen this posted elsewhere and i don't believe that 5/6 of ships will be available at any given time, sure i read somewhere with 55 ships the US navy expects AT LEAST 23 available.

    I didn't post the bit about the engines all i will say is that fleet escorts should be capable of at least 30 knots up to 35 knots. Above 35 knots is necessary in my opinion, another area where the LCS has created massive extra costs to get such high top speed, for what purpose?

    The part on range and supplies i think are perfectly adequate.

  9. With 55 ships the US Navy wants 23 at sea at the same time.

    Available and at sea aren't the same thing. Also, the Type 45 fleet is not yet fully in service. We should wait some time and see how it fares when all ships are worked up and in service, and see by how much the target is missed, if it is missed.

    As for the MHPC concept, i think it is entirely sensible. It's the LCS that went... too far, and made some rather weird choice, in my opinion.

  10. as someone with a number of years (& Ships) experience of the Type 23 CODLAG arangement, it is hard to understand why the apparent preference this time around is for CODLOG. In a CODLOG system when using 'or Gas' mode the electric motor is shutdown and is nothing more than a rotating deadweight, whereas a CODLAG system in 'and Gas' mode benefits from a continuing contribution (up to max capacity) from the electric motor(s) to the Propulsion effort. This can be used to either increase propulsion power or reduce the gas turbine (fuel?) demand. Furthermore in CODLOG Ships maneouvring from ahead in 'gas' mode to astern (using motors) will require additional electrical switching activities not required on a CODLAG system. Note the French FREMM is CODLOG whilst the Italian version is CODLAG, as is the German F125. All three Ship type use a similar arrangement of single Gas Turbine connected to twin propellor shafts via transfer gearbox with motors incorporated on the shaftlines

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