Leonardo DRS is to provide a second hybrid-electric drive system for the US Coast Guards next offshore patrol cutter (OPC) under a contract with Eastern Shipbuilding. Under the contract, Leonardo DRS will supply the HED systems for the first nine ships of the OPC program. The first system is set to be delivered in mid-2019. Leonardo DRS will provide its high-performance, permanent-magnet motor-based Auxiliary Propulsion System. This integrated hybrid-electric drive system provides capability for the ship to operate much more efficiently at slower speeds, increases mission duration capability, reduces emissions and provides emergency take-home capability in the event of a failure of the main propulsion diesel engines. When coupled to the main propulsion gearbox, the system enables the ship to operate quietly and efficiently during loitering operations, while providing superior fuel economy for increased on-station operations and capability. Our hybrid-electric drive will offer crews of these new ships operational flexibility when they need it, while significantly increasing cost savings in yearly maintenance and fuel, said Christine Borglin, senior program manager for DRS Naval Power Systems. The Auxiliary Propulsion System includes two of the most power-dense permanent-magnet motors on the market today. They have significant advantages in size, weight, efficiency and performance over conventional electric-induction motors and produce more torque from the same amount of supplied current. Their smaller footprint gives increased cargo space and greater flexibility in engine room design; the simpler, more rugged construction results in proven reliability and durability. Using propulsion diesel engines at slow speeds adds significant wear and tear on the engines and increases the potential for coking/wet stacking. By adding this electric Auxiliary Propulsion System, the Coast Guard will have a built-in advantage when it comes to reducing fuel, maintenance requirements and lifecycle costs, while increasing safety for the fleet.
Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.