Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Canada Launches First Refit of Victoria-class SSK

Babcock's Canadian Submarine Management Group (CSMG) has begun work to undertake the first Extended Docking Work Period (EDWP) under the Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC), on HMCS Chicoutimi, following the award of the contract to the company by the Canadian government in June 2008. This EDWP will be a significant step towards realising Babcock's aim of becoming the long term in-service support partner of choice to Canada.

Babcock's CSMG is teamed with Victoria Shipyards as a key subcontractor to undertake refit work on the west coast, and the EDWP on Chicoutimi is being carried out in a purpose-built covered facility in Victoria Shipyards, which was completed in February this year.

HMCS Chicoutimi was transferred from Canada's east coast to Victoria Shipyards on the west coast in May 2009 under CSMG control, and has since been undergoing an Extended Lay Up and Maintenance Period. The submarine had been laid up on the east coast since suffering fire damage on her way to Canada in 2004, following reactivation at Barrow in the UK.

Work to be undertaken on Chicoutimi during the substantial 29 month EDWP includes a large system surveillance package (part of the survey and assessment activity to identify the emergent work package normally associated with a complex refit programme such as this); battery change; propulsion plant overhauls; weapon handling and launch system overhaul; fire damage repairs including a complete rebuild of the communications room; and replacement of 65% of the hull tiles; as well as 52 Engineering Changes (EC), or alterations and additions, with 16 further ECs being considered subject to approval. The original planned work alone (excluding emergent work) will involve some 650,000 manhours of production work.

Initiatives implemented to ensure on-time completion of this refit have included a pre-EDWP de-risk package, undertaken in the three months prior to commencement of the EDWP. This included survey of the external tanks and free-flood spaces, removal of control surfaces, tile survey, and survey of fire damaged areas.

In undertaking the refit, CSMG is drawing on Babcock's proven project and production control processes, tailored for application in Canada, and has seconded submarine-experienced Babcock staff to key positions within Victoria Shipyards. Babcock is the sole UK submarine platform in-service support contractor with an established track record of successful submarine refits and upgrades at Devonport, and support to operational submarines at Faslane. Babcock also leads the Submarine Support Management Group industry team which has provided engineering design and technical support services to the UK Ministry of Defence for over a decade. This extensive know-how was key to CSMG being awarded the VISSC contract.

"On-time delivery of Chicoutimi, ready for operations, is vital to Canada's overall submarine programme, and we have drawn on and applied our considerable expertise within Babcock to plan and execute this EDWP to achieve this," Babcock Integrated Technology Director Andy Nicholls commented. "Our aim is to work with Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) to improve operational availability and demonstrate value for money within an overall culture of safety."

The EDWP started in July. Flood-up is scheduled for mid-2012, with project completion in December 2012.

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