New Launching Platform For Navy

The Navy has entered a new era of ship construction in Bath, Maine. The introduction of an innovative construction and launching platform brings some of the most modern warship building methods in the world to Bath Iron Works and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). May 5 marked the first official use of what is known as the Land Level Transfer Facility (LLTF). That day saw the keel laying of the future USS Chafee (DDG 90). an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, co-sponsored by Mrs. John Chafee, widow of the Honorable John Chafee, a former Secretary of the Navy and Senator from Rhode Island, along with Mrs. Diane Blair, wife of Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command.

The Land Level Transfer Facility is a construction platform with three sideby- side shipways that allow for amphibious ships and destroyers to be built simultaneously. Outfit support towers alongside the ships are designed to provide the work force all the material and services they need. These towers have tool cribs, slump material stock rooms, office space, restrooms and lunchrooms built in to help improve productivity. Additionally, a 75,000-sq.-ft. Manufacturing Support Center will house shipyard manufacturing supervision; design; planning; quality assurance office; material control professionals; and personnel from NAVSEA's Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair (SUPSHIP) Bath in a true integrated process team environment.

The advantages of the new Land Level Transfer Facility are many. Weighing more than 400 tons each, the first erection units of Chafee are the largest ever produced by Bath Iron Works. These erection units can be much heavier than those placed on traditional sliding ways but will be able to be placed on the LLTF.

Another advantage of the facility is the capability to install sonar domes before a ship is launched.

Commenting on the benefits of the new facility, Captain Richard Hepburn, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, SUPSHIP Bath said, "It was an enormous investment by General Dynamics (owner of Bath Iron Works); but one which looks to pay off with the potential of considerable production savings on each hull. Bath Iron Works, the U.S. Navy, the employees of Bath Iron Works, the American taxpayers, and the nation's defense, are all winners with this magnificent facility in operation." - (By Richard Osial, NAVSEA Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations) complete this contract within the next nine months, and anticipates receiving additional contracts from the Navy leading to initial sea trials of an HTS propulsion system by the end of 2003.

The latest contract calls for the design and fabrication of components for podcontained, HTS propulsion motors.

American Superconductor's proprietary HTS motors are expected to be one-fifth the size and one-third the weight of conventional electric motors of the same power rating. HTS thrusters, because of their smaller size and higher efficiency, are expected to provide significant increases in maneuverability, fuel efficiency, and cargo and passenger space, among other advantages. "Electric drive systems for commercial and Navy ships is the 'killer app' for HTS motors," said Greg Yurek. American Superconductor's CEO. "The dramatic reductions in size, weight and manufacturing costs created by HTS technology are leading to radically new ship designs, which provide tremendous tactical and operational advantages to the Navy and path- ways to increased profitability for commercial ships." According to some industry sources, the current annual global market for electric motors and generators utilized for electric propulsion in commercial cruise and cargo ships is approximately $400 million. The market for ship propulsion motors and generators is expected to grow rapidly to $2 billion to $4 billion per year by 2010 because electric drives are becoming the propulsion system of choice for both commercial and Navy ships.

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