JUNE 8, 2016 — Damen Shipyards Group is introducing a new range of Naval Multi-Role Auxiliary Vessels offering flexibility and reducing total cost of ownership through the use of modular mission modules with proven technologies
The common theme is provision of a basic platform offering naval clients reliable and cost-effective multi-role potential and hydrographic survey capabilities. Using supplementary modular mission equipment, the vessels can be mobilized in numerous, mainly littoral, tasks such as: explosive ordnance clearance and disposal, diving operations, torpedo recovery and overhaul, ROV and UAV deployment, SAR, coastal infantry and submarine support.
The largest version of the range will be able to operate worldwide, on the ocean as well as in littoral waters, and has additional capabilities such as disaster and humanitarian relief, oceanography and naval training support.
Damen says its aim is to introduce flexible concepts that allow as many functions as possible to be included into a range of smaller vessels without reducing the effectiveness and capacity of the fleet and maintaining the benefits of modularity.
"To this end, plug-and-play containerized kit for many support tasks contribute considerable adaptability to a particular mission," says Damen Shipyards Gorinchem's Principal Naval Advisor, Jan van der Burg, a retired Royal Netherlands Navy Vice Admiral. "The idea behind these vessels is to create a basic platform that can assist in a variety of tasks through the selection of the required mission configuration, e.g. coastal transport, submarine support or coastal infantry operations. The stimulus to switch from the traditional one-to-one replacement is to lower the total cost of ownership without losing capability and capacity."
The new range consists of three designs: the MRAV 660, MRAV 1600 and MRAV 3600. Designed for different geographic profiles, they are respectively 43 m, 62 m and 85 m long. Hydrographic capabilities, to map the seabed for safe navigation and as a preparatory action for military operations, are indispensable to navies worldwide. Depending on a client's specific requirements, any type of hydrographic equipment can be integrated into the three vessels.
With a draft of 1.9 m, the 43 m MRAV 660 is suited for very shallow coastal, riverine and inland water operations. In addition to shallow water hydrographic surveys, thie vessel is capable of a comprehensive array of duties such as diving operations, EOCD support, ROV and UAV deployment, with a core crew of 8 and capacity for an additional 15 specialists.
"Damen has built up a lot of knowledge on shallow draft ship design – this is the reason we strived towards a shallow draft hull for the MRAV 660 with full confidence. The expertise of our Research Department, combined with input from our Workboats Product Group contributed to a design based upon tested design solutions," says Damen Design and Proposal Engineer Tim Viveen."
The key points are to maximize displacement, minimize resistance and optimize seakeeping characteristics for the area in which the ship will operate," says Mr. Veveen."The MRAV 660 has design characteristics that help achieve this: an aluminum superstructure and reduced freeboard section cut down on weight. And tunnel ducts on the underside of the hull ensure enough water reaches the propellers."
The 62 m MRAV 1600 is designed for littoral and regional offshore operations. Its larger size allows for greater endurance and carrying capacity of both crew, mission modules and cargo.
The vessel will be manned by a core crew of 13, with capacity for an additional 30 mission specialists. The main deck can hold six standard 20-foot mission containers and the below-deck cargo hold can store two 20-foot containers and palletized cargo.
The medium-sized vessel can take on similar hydrographic and auxiliary duties to its smaller sister vessel, with the addition of torpedo recovery and overhaul tasks in support of submarines and anti-submarine warfare units. Small scale coastal transport and infantry support is also possible.
Intended for worldwide service, the capacity of the largest vessel in the range – the 85 m MRAV 3600 – allows for more than one specific mission during a deployment. Capable of hydrographic operations both in littoral and deeper waters, this vessel also has a helideck and substantial storage capacity for other mission configurations, equipment and cargo.
The MRAV 3600 can serve as a base for more extensive operations such as disaster and humanitarian relief. There are accommodations for 14 core and 45 additional mission crew and enough space on board to provide emergency hospital services for 50 to 60 people.
Advantages of modularity
A key aims with the new range is to reduce the pressure on a navy's human and financial resources. The modularity of the mission modules plays a major part in accomplishing this.
"We achieved this by combining the capabilities of specialized ships into one ship by using these add-on equipment modules – these can be fitted inside standard 10-, 20- or 40-foot containers or have the footprint of a standard container," says Damen Design and Proposal Manager Piet van Rooij. "When operating multiple ships of the same family and design, the efficiency of training, crew exchangeability and maintenance programs are improved."
A modular platform allows naval clients to better react to changes in the mission environment and also means the lifetime of an individual vessel can be efficiently extended by upgrading capabilities with new equipment modules not integrated into the original design.The MRAV range is commercially built and also uses commercially available components. This is made possible because of the vessels' non-combatant role.
"Using commercial off-the-shelf equipment reduces the total cost of ownership without reducing the quality of the equipment," says Mr. Van Rooij.
The ship design itself has a proven background.
"Damen has built many ships similar to the MRAV range for the offshore industry," says Mr. Van Rooij. "This means that there will not be any unwanted surprises for the first customer of this new range."
The new Multi Role Auxiliary Vessel range serves to expand a Damen naval portfolio that includes larger vessels such as frigates, corvettes, LPDs, AORs and OPVs.
"These new MRAV designs are complementary to the range of ships that Damen already offers for the defense and security markets," says Mr. Van Rooij. "We are currently at the stage of finalized conceptual design. Considering the next step, being more detailed engineering while taking advantage of COTS equipment and tested designs, we are confident that the actual construction can be swiftly accomplished, with excellent quality and reliability."