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GE to upgrade RFA ships’ IPMS

Written by Nick Blenkey

RFA Wave RulerJANUARY 24, 2013 — GE’s Power Conversion (NYSE: GE) business has started fitting the latest generation of Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) to the U.K. Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ships Wave Knight and Wave Ruler.

The Wave class fast fleet replenishment tankers are operated by the civilian-manned RFA and are designed to support Royal Naval warships worldwide. Built to a commercial standard with military requirements being incorporated only where required, their primary role is replenishment at sea. However, with a large helicopter flight deck, ability to deploy small boats and being fitted with close in weapons systems, they are versatile vessels.

The technology being fitted by GE will extend the life and versatility of the IPMS fitted to the two ships,

The IPMS is critical to the effective performance of many of the ships’ basic functions as it includes machinery control and surveillance, damage surveillance and control, electrical power control and management and Replenishment at Sea (RAS) functions.

The current update is a carefully planned program in which GE will coordinate with the RFA and with the selected shipyard to decommission the previous generation equipment and replace it in phases to suit each ship’s ongoing operational commitments. The work is expected to be completed by early 2014.

The new IPMS complements the electric power and propulsion system on the ships as it was originally delivered by GE (at that time Alstom Power Conversion) during the construction in 2002. The IPMS update will maintain the core functionality of the original design and will manage component and system level obsolescence while providing an opportunity to enhance the system with new features including GE’s distributed information recording and display (DIRAD) system, which is set to be installed on WAVE RULER.

The DIRAD system is essentially an electronic damage control incident board system. It uses straightforward graphics to display damage control and firefighting incidents of all types in stations distributed throughout the ship. DIRAD will be embedded within Wave Ruler’s IPMS operator human machine interface as a part of the current update program, thereby giving the RFA a trial fit for evaluation.

The choice of hardware and design of the IPMS system architecture have been guided by the operational requirement to install new equipment with minimal disruption to the existing system and cabling. The replacement IPMS will be built and tested at one of GE’s U.K. test facilities before being delivered to the ship. Each element of the replacement system will be tested under simulation prior to delivery in order to reduce the risk of incompatibility with the existing ship systems.

“By replacing and updating the current IPMS systems, GE is helping to ensure that the RFA has access to the latest technology in a proven system that is expandable and flexible enough to be adapted in line with future changes in the ships’ capability,” said Barry Carr, manager, Naval Service for GE’s Power Conversion business. “This upgrade will improve and modernize the ships’ systems with a cost-effective solution that provides much faster control response while also improving reliability and extending service life.”

GE acquired Power Conversion (then known as Converteam) in September 2011

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