Damen Naval signed a contract with ABB to supply its Onboard DC Grid systems for all four F126 frigates that are under construction for the German Navy. This includes transformers, generators, tunnel thruster motors, energy storage systems, as well as associated control systems and cybersecurity solutions. This contract marks a clear shift in how the naval ships of tomorrow will not only meet the increasingly complex demands of their operators, but also fulfill the public and political expectations for decreasing emissions from naval fleets.
While ABB Onboard DC Grid has previously shown its worth in numerous projects for offshore, superyacht, tug, ferry, and research vessel applications, further development of the power generation and distribution system has proven that it is now sufficiently robust to withstand higher levels of shock and vibrations and meet the demanding requirements of the Navy. Furthermore, the system’s low electromagnetic interference levels are improved.
In line with Damen Naval’s own contract with the German Navy to deliver multi-mission capable vessels, the selection of a DC power system means that the frigates’ diesel generators will be able to operate at variable speeds. The robustness of the DC-grid will allow the German navy to use the minimum amount of diesel generators without the risk of black-outs. This will reduce the overall running time, and therefore fuel consumption of the power generation systems.
Moreover, the installation of a DC power system is a strategic future-proof decision because such systems are compatible with sustainable energy sources, which will give the German Navy a head-start in integrating new technologies over the course of the vessels’ lifecycle.
“We selected ABB to supply the integration of power and distribution systems for the F126 frigates because of their outstanding expertise in DC power systems,” says Damen Naval Managing Director Hein van Ameijden. “The technical specifications offered by their systems will yield valuable flexibility and modularity to these state-of-the-art frigates, while enabling the German Navy to adapt to rapidly developing energy sources.”
“This is a significant milestone towards more sustainable naval operations, with no compromise on performance, as enabled by Onboard DC Grid. Power demands for naval vessels change in seconds, not minutes – from standby to high-speed manoeuvres. This is where our solution offers significant benefits by delivering instant power on demand and superior energy storage capability,” said Sindre Sætre, Business Line Manager, Coast Guard and Navy, ABB Marine & Ports. “We at ABB have the capability to leverage superior expertise and experience from the commercial sector and meet the specific requirements for naval vessels.”
Damen Naval was selected as successful bidder for the F126 program in 2020 following a European tender process spanning several years. The first ship is expected to be delivered to the German Navy in 2028. All building work will be carried out entirely in Germany at shipyards in Kiel, Hamburg and Wolgast. Damen Naval is building the four F126 class frigates as the main contractor, involving strategic partners such as Blohm+Voss and Thales Netherlands. The two extra vessels that are on option for the German Navy, will also be included in the contract with ABB when the order is confirmed.