Singapore navy’s future MRCVs goes full-electric

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)’s Multi-Role Combat Vessel (MRCV) programme will feature an integrated full electric propulsion (IFEP) system, making the planned six-ship class the first to feature such a propulsion arrangement.

The latest revelation for the highly secretive MRCV programme – which has been short on details since the programme was first announced in July 2018 – was provided by GE Vernova, which announced on 18 March that its Power Conversion business has been awarded a contract by Singapore shipbuilder ST Engineering Marine to supply its Ship’s Electric Grid equipment.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) earlier announced that the MRCVs will function as mother ships that would host a range of unmanned air, surface, and subsurface vehicles. The MRCVs will be delivered progressively to the RSN from 2028 onwards by ST Engineering Marine, which is responsible for the detailed design and build of the six vessels.

Neither the contract value nor detailed specifications of the new vessels have been disclosed to date.

According to GE Vernova, the six MRCVs will be the first IFEP-powered vessels for the RSN and will replace its fleet of conventional mechanical drive Victory-class missile corvettes, which have been in service since 1989.

The company added that delivery of the electric propulsion systems for the new ships is planned over the next 10 years, noting that its Ship’s Electric Grid system will deliver the electrical power required by the MRCVs’ propulsion as well as its operational and mission systems such as radar and communications via a more energy-efficient and cost-effective method as it offers the ability to share electric power to any load on the ship’s power network.

Delivery of the systems will be supported by the Power Conversion Asia team based in Singapore, who will provide oversight on project engineering, project management, commissioning and sea trials.

GE Vernova explained that its Ship’s Electric Grid comprises the full suite of generators, medium-voltage switchboards, transformers, propulsion variable frequency drives (VFDs), electric propulsion motors, thruster motors, soft starters, a shore power connection, power management system (PMS), and the propulsion control system (PCS).

“Power Conversion is pleased to equip the RSN’s new MRCVs with electric power,” said Andy Cooper, General Manager at GE Vernova’s Power Conversion UK business.

“Like so many other navies around the world, the RSN is adopting an electric ship configuration as an enabler for increased levels of power and energy-efficiency,” noted Cooper.

“Being equipped with an electric grid allows a ship the ability to share every bit of available power throughout the vessel, strengthening its energy surety and even helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.

It was earlier revealed that the Singaporean Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and Swedish defence prime Saab signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-develop and design the new vessels, by “harnessing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to realise the MRCV’s concept as a highly digital ship”.

According to DSTA, the MoU will also enable its scholars and engineers to embed with Saab via work attachment and internships. The move is aimed at enhancing the country’s technical capabilities particularly in the areas of ship composite structure repair and radar overhaul.

by Jr Ng