Design and support of key systems for Collins Class submarines
In 2014, Babcock worked with the Naval Group (then known as DCNS) to refit the French Navy frigate Vendémiaire. In 2017, the New Caledonian based FNS Vendémiaire returned to New Zealand for its next major refit; this time including system and equipment upgrades. The refit required significant co-operation between Babcock and attending Naval Group specialists to achieve the project timeline.
Naval Group was responsible for the maintenance of the French Navy frigate Vendémiaire. They required a dry-dock and refit facility in the Pacific region, capable of providing commercially competitive dry-docking and refit support, in accordance with extremely high quality and performance standards. Babcock was able to meet the stipulated requirements and was subsequently appointed to work with Naval Group for the project.
An extensive refit programme was implemented to upgrade, repair and maintain the FNS Vendémiaire. It included installation of a new boat davit and a new water mist fire suppression system, together with a dry-docking and major refit work package.
The Harding type 6000kg SWL Davit and cradles were fitted to handle the vessel’s RHIB type boats, with the installation requiring an extension to the original deck and supporting structure, new davit hinge points, new cradles and access platforms. The davit equipment and design was provided by Naval Group, with Babcock responsible for the structural fabrication, mechanical installation and testing. Palfinger Marine, of Poland, attended to direct commissioning.
Design and equipment for the ‘Hi-Fog’ water mist fire suppression system was provided by Naval Group, via DEF Marine, with Babcock responsible for mechanical installation.
This involved, cutting access into the ship’s hull, installing discharge and suction penetrations, as well as two high volume water pumps, and an 800ltr back-up pressure tank with nitrogen supply. Installation of over 830 metres of pre-manufactured stainless steel system pipework was installed throughout the vessel. Babcock’s electrical workshop also assisted DEF Marine with the electrical and cabling installation.
Lesser installations included a Reverse Osmosis Fresh Water Maker; a new PABX cabinet and cabling; replacement oily water separator; new galley equipment and water heaters. Maintenance activities included; overhaul of SEMT Pielstick 6PA6 L280 main engine; overhaul of port and starboard gearboxes and overhaul of bow thruster motor; preservation of underwater hull, topsides hull and helicopter deck; hull thickness survey; structural steelwork repairs and general outfitting and equipment maintenance and preservation works.
With our growing understanding of the French Navy’s requirements, and excellent co-operation with Naval Group, Babcock was able to complete this challenging project safely, to schedule and to quality criteria. The extensive refit programme was efficiently delivered within the vessel’s available 16 week major refit period.
Since 2008, we have completed four French Navy vessel refits. Prior to departure, Naval Group and the Ship’s Officers were complimentary about the knowledge, workmanship and facilities available in Auckland. With Auckland’s relative proximity to New Caledonia and Babcock New Zealand’s combination of commercial and warship refitting experience, Babcock is well placed to continue co-operation with Naval Group and the French Navy vessels operating in the South Pacific.
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