Babcock displays Irish OPV at DSEI
Babcock's stand at DSEI this year is displaying a model of the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) being built by the company for the Irish Naval Service, in advance of two key milestones in the build programme; float-up of the first OPV and keel laying for the second – both of which take place next month (October).
The model is expected to attract attention at a time of considerable interest in OPVs around the world.
Babcock was awarded the contract to build the two OPVs by Ireland’s Department of Defence in 2010 in the face of fierce international competition, based on pricing and the company’s experience of shipbuilding and proven track record in working with the Irish Naval Service. The new OPVs are being built at Babcock’s Appledore shipyard in North Devon, where Ireland’s current OPVs LÈ Roisin and Niamh were also built in the late 1990s - early 2000s. Babcock’s proposal for the new OPVs drew heavily on the design and success of these vessels and the Appledore team that built them.
The new Irish OPVs are approx 90 metre, 1933 tonne ships with autonomous engine rooms capable of a top speed of 23 knots, and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at their cruise speed of 15 knots on a single engine. The propulsion system utilises a diesel electric drive system which provides a loiter function of up to 6 knots. The vessels have a comprehensive command, control and communications package coupled to the main weapon; a 76mm gun, as well as two 20mm cannons and four general purpose machine guns. They will also be equipped with configurable, serviced mission modules, with deck space to operate mission specific equipment, and to act as a mother ship for two fully independent fast pursuit Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RIBs).
The OPVs are required to undertake a range of duties including fishery protection, search and rescue, maritime protection, drug interdiction, anti-pollution and maritime security duties, including vessel boardings. To conduct these operations a crew of 44, plus 10 trainee berths, will be accommodated to high comfort and habitability standards. The vessels are designed to provide an operational capability for up to 30 years of service in their main area of operation (North Atlantic).
A keel laying ceremony for the first of the two OPVs took place in May 2012 at Babcock’s Appledore shipyard. This vessel, LÈ Samuel Beckett, will now be floated up next month (October 2013), after which she will be berthed alongside for final outfit, test and commissioning prior to delivery to the Irish Naval Service in early 2014.
Keel laying for the second OPV also takes place next month, for delivery in 2015.
Babcock business development director David McGinley said: “We are delighted to be progressing on-schedule and within budget on the build of these two OPVs for the Irish Naval Service, and it is exciting to be so close to achieving the major float-up milestone for the first vessel. The success of this project demonstrates our innovation and capability in this field, and we expect the model of these OPVs on our stand at DSEi to draw attention, at a time of considerable international interest in OPVs as affordable platforms for day to day naval tasks.”