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Defence

Babcock delivers S-80 weapons handling equipment

Babcock has delivered the weapons handling equipment for the first of class, new Spanish S-80 submarine under construction at Navantia's Cartagena shipyard, marking a significant milestone in the project.

The handling equipment is a key component of the overall Weapons Handling and Launch System (WHLS) which Babcock has designed and is delivering for these submarines. 

Babcock was contracted in 2006 to design and supply the WHLS (including four sets of weapon handling and launch equipment and a set of weapon embarkation equipment) for the four planned S-80 diesel/air-independent propulsion electric hybrid submarines, being built for the Armada Española (Spanish Navy) by Navantia.  Babcock is undertaking the design, development, manufacture and supply of the WHLS to handle and launch the torpedoes, missiles and mines carried by the new submarines.  This includes the mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic, pneumatic and software systems, as well as definition of the interfaces with the submarine structure, combat system and weapons.  

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Key features of Babcock’s WHLS design for the S-80 include a semi-automated weapon handling and stowage system designed with a modular approach.  The role of the weapons handling component of the system is to embark weapons, stow these safely while at sea and protect them during a shock event, load weapons into the torpedo tubes, and disembark weapons or spent items.  The Weapons Handling Equipment (WHE) comprises three main assemblies: a centreline lift, weapon stowages, and the weapon handling control system.  

The centreline lift moves weapons from the outboard embarkation equipment into the weapons stowage compartment, or between tiers of the stowages, and includes a novel tilting feature to also allow the lift to accept weapons from the embarkation equipment.  The two weapon stowages (port and starboard) provide isolated storage of weapons and associated support equipment from shock events, with the facility to move weapons around the stowages and load them into the tubes.  They feature a semi-automated ‘paired release’ system to aid with mine loading operations.  The weapon handling control system provides control to all electrical and hydraulic systems in the WHE and uses proximity sensor technology, helping to reduce manning levels.  

The first set of weapons handling equipment has been manufactured, commissioned and tested by Babcock in the UK, and delivered to Navantia.

Babcock programme manager Jim Sibson said: “Delivery of the WHE is a significant achievement.  The design, development and manufacture of this state-of-the-art system to meet the stringent safety, stability and shock requirements of our customer and provide a critical high level of reliability within a restricted space envelope has been a complex engineering challenge, which we have successfully addressed by applying our extensive experience and expertise in weapon handling and launch systems.  We are delighted to have successfully built, commissioned and tested the weapons handling system, and delivered it to Navantia, marking an important milestone in our project and the overall S-80 programme.”   

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The WHE will now be installed by Navantia in Section 5 of the first of the four submarines, S-81, recently named the Isaac Peral.  This process involves a complicated sequence of alignment.  Once the submarine sections have been welded together, system installation including wiring the electrical system and piping of the hydraulics system will then be completed ready for re-testing.

  Other elements of the S-80 WHLS system including the major elements of the torpedo tubes and launch system have already been delivered by Babcock.  The contract is scheduled for completion in 2014.

 

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