General Electric [GE] on June 24 said it has been chosen by BAE Systems for a design, develop and assess (DDA) contract to provide the electric propulsion system for the Type 26 Global Combat Ships. 

The U.K. Ministry of Defense has initiated a major program to update and upgrade its current fleet of frigates. In the next decade, Type 26 Global Combat Ships will become the backbone of the Royal Navy, replacing its existing Type 23 Frigates.

Today’s frigates operate in the most challenging of circumstances and need to be effective, efficient, safe and sustainable. 

The Type 26 will incorporate the latest in hybrid propulsion technology: at low speeds it will run on an innovative electric drive system, while at high speeds it will take power from the gas turbine.

Mark Dannatt, naval business leader for GE’s Power Conversion business, said: “Over the last 25 years, we have supplied electrical power and propulsion systems for the majority of the Royal Navy’s surface warships. We have recently built the electric power and propulsion system for the U.K.’s two new aircraft carriers being assembled at Rosyth, and we are now designing the electric power and propulsion system for the four Royal Fleet Auxiliary MARS tankers to be built in South Korea.”

Under current plans, 13 Type 26 Global Combat ships will be delivered to the Royal Navy.

It is a long-term contract, he said.  “It underlines our strong position in supplying electrical systems to the Royal Navy and many other navies, and it will provide us with an excellent reference for similar projects around the world. It is the latest proof that our power and propulsion technology is not only very energy efficient, but also safe, for instance in the provision of our arc proof, variable-speed drives, as well as being highly cost-effective.”

A key requirement was that the new ship’s propulsion system had to be very quiet to maximize operations of the 13 Type 26 ships.

“The motors we will be supplying are very quiet, due in large part to the use of patented anti-vibration technology,” Dannatt said. “Reducing radiated noise from the motor makes it exceptionally quiet, which is obviously very important for naval operations. GE is on the cutting edge with this proven, robust technology. It will allow the Royal Navy to operate more efficiently, cost-effectively and safely.