Leonardo DRS to provide hybrid electric drive technology for offshore patrol cutters

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Eastern Shipbuilding Group has awarded a contract to Leonardo DRS to supply the auxiliary propulsion system for the fourth shipset in the US Coast Guard’s latest fleet of offshore patrol cutter vessels.

The supply scope of the contract will see Leonardo DRS providing its high-performance permanent-magnet-motor-based auxiliary propulsion system. The integrated hybrid electric drive system has been optimized to meet the demands of the US Coast Guard’s operational tempo.

Leonardo’s auxiliary propulsion system consists of two power-dense permanent-magnet motors that deliver advantages in terms of component size, weight, efficiency and performance compared with conventional electric induction motors. The motors are also capable of producing more torque from the same amount of supplied current. The system’s compact design allows for flexible engine room design and increased cargo space, and its rugged construction ensures reliability and durability.

Coupled with the vessel’s main propulsion gearbox, the system will enable the ship to operate with a lower noise level and be more efficient when stationary. As a result, it is expected to deliver improved fuel economy. Furthermore, the solution will enable the vessel to operate more efficiently at slower speeds, reducing emissions and increasing mission duration capability. If the main diesel engines fail, the system can also be used to return the vessel to base.

With the addition of the electric auxiliary propulsion system, wear and tear on the vessel’s diesel engines will be greatly reduced, resulting in less maintenance over its estimated 40-year lifespan. Due to the electric propulsion system, the main engine overhaul that is usually carried out after 15 years can now be carried out after 25.

“Leonardo DRS is a leading innovator in the naval hybrid electric drive technology arena, and we are proud to be able to provide our advanced technology to the Coast Guard’s fleet of next-generation cutters,” said Jon Miller, senior vice president and general manager in Leonardo DRS’s naval power business. “These new propulsion systems will give operational flexibility while significantly increasing cost savings in yearly maintenance and fuel, enabling crews to put more focus on their missions.”

The next-generation vessels will be built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group. The platform is the first combined diesel-electric or diesel propulsion system application for the US Coast Guard.

Leonardo DRS appoints new chief technology officer
In addition to providing the company’s electric drive technology to the US Coast Guard, Leonardo DRS has also announced the appointment of a new chief technology officer (CTO).

Dr Philip Perconti (right) will take on the role of CTO and be responsible for leading corporate research and development strategy, accelerating innovation and expanding partnerships that result in integrated technology solutions yielding enhanced warfighting capabilities. Perconti spent 30 years working for the US Army where he conducted research and managed leading science and technology programs.

“We are excited to have Dr Perconti as our new chief technology officer,” commented Bill Lynn, chief executive officer, Leonardo DRS. “He brings a deep understanding of future technological trends that will help Leonardo DRS fill gaps in its portfolio and develop next-generation systems and capabilities for its customers.”

“I look forward to working across our business units, with our industry partners, and with universities around the world to build on Leonardo DRS’s advanced technologies, and to develop ground-breaking systems that will lead to better protected, better informed, more mobile, and more lethal war fighters for years to come,” explained Perconti.

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After spending six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum joined UKi Media & Events in February 2020 as an assistant editor. In this role he uses his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors.

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