An ongoing programme of upkeep, upgrade and repair to the propulsion motors on various vessels across the Royal Navy has been keeping engineers from Quartzelec, a leading independent UK based electrical engineering group, busy on the south coast, and the fleet at peak effectiveness. The work is being carried out via Babcock Marine in Plymouth, BAE Systems in Portsmouth, and directly for the MoD.
Type 23 frigates depend on their propulsion motors and associated drives to carry out their primary mission … chasing submarines. Some have exceeded 18 years’ service without their propulsion motors being cleaned, resulting in issues including low insulation resistance (IR). Several have been the subject of work either during scheduled refits or whilst in service, with a number of faults being revealed which demanded Quartzelec’s specialist expertise to rectify.
Work undertaken has included the cleaning and re-insulation of brush gear, replacement of anti condensation heaters, commutator machining and line reactor re-manufacturing. In one case, there was an urgent requirement to get a frigate back to sea from Plymouth after one of its motors had to be taken out of service as a result of serious contamination. A Quartzelec team was despatched from Rugby and split to enable 24-hour coverage. Cleaning was completed in just four days and the dockyard team returned to assist with rebuilding the motor over a weekend, allowing the ship to return to sea on the Monday morning. The team subsequently attended the frigate at its home port, Portsmouth, to clean the other motor.
Elsewhere, other classes of warship have also been the subject of work by Quartzelec. Teams from Swansea and Sheffield recently worked in shifts to successfully complete vital generator cleaning on Landing Platform Dock (LPD) HMS Bulwark in only three days, enabling the vessel to take part in a major international exercise on schedule. On a separate occasion, HMS Bulwark received a replacement leak detection device on one of its HV Ship’s Services Transformers, with the Quartzelec team having to track down the manufacturer in Switzerland.
Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) HMS Ocean had its four Hyundai generators hand-cleaned, resulting in improved IR and lower susceptibility to random tripping. And a programme to fit LIFEVIEW partial discharge monitoring systems to the Royal Navy’s six Type 45 destroyers has begun, following a lengthy tendering process.
“We have a wealth of experience working with maritime propulsion motors and are proud to be able to support and work alongside our armed forces,” stated Neal Parkin, Manager Naval Projects. “We have a long and prestigious heritage that stretches back more than 80 years and over the past few years we have steadily built our working relationship with the Royal Navy along with key defence contractors by successfully delivering an increasingly complex schedule of critical maintenance projects. This experience is also enabling us to expand our activities in support of the oil & gas plus wider maritime sector.”