Landing craft support delivers increased availability

Thu, 02 August 2012

The ground-breaking CES arrangement was introduced by the MoD and Babcock in 2010 for the long term support of the Royal Navy’s 33 landing craft.  These include Landing Craft Utility (LCU) and Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), operating from the amphibious capital ships HMSOcean,AlbionandBulwark.

Under the CES agreement, Babcock undertakes all LCU and LCVP support period activity and works with the MoD to develop the maintenance requirements jointly, making a proactive contribution to the work required based on its knowledge and experience.  The implementation of CES facilitates a long-term through-life approach and has brought together a single team in Devonport working alongside the end user (the Royal Marines), to deliver significant improvements in landing craft material state and availability, as well as efficiency savings.  Since the introduction of the CES approach, availability has improved considerably and continues to improve.

The SP(D)s completed this month on two LCUs have been undertaken in just 20 weeks.  The generic SP(D) work package has been compiled by the CES team over the last two years, based on experience gained during each SP(D) carried out.  The work package then incorporates rectification of defects identified in advance of the SP(D) by ship’s staff or the CES team during the full material state assessment (MSA).  Where surveys cannot be conducted before the craft docks, they are completed immediately on docking.

Addressing any defects before they develop is central to improving availability.  For example, recent trends show that propulsor seal failure rates have increased leading to long term damage, so the two current LCU SP(D)s have included a complete overhaul of propulsors.

The SP(D) also includes a Lloyds Special 6 Annual Survey (an in-depth examination of the ship’s structure and electrical and mechanical machinery), and replacement of underwater valves with Lloyds approved alternatives, which have generated significant savings (£8k per craft) and reduced the lead time from over 18 weeks to a maximum of four weeks.  A number of alterations and additions (A&As) have also been included – including the Remote Watchkeeping System, additional access to the rigging store, and structural modifications to the rear gun mount improving gunner protection.

As well as these two LCU SP(D)s, the CES team has at the same time also been undertaking maintenance and repair work on 14 landing craft either within Babcock’s landing craft facility, or while berthed alongside at Devonport.  Over 100 fleet time fits have been carried out on these craft (ie upgrades to existing or fitting of new equipment or systems).

Babcock Warship Support Head of Operations, Mike Weeks, said: “These latest SP(D)s exemplify the benefits of the CES approach to landing craft support.  This is an important part of the drive for further improvements as part of the joint initiative between MoD and Babcock to develop Devonport as the RN Centre for Amphibious Support Excellence (CASE).  The success of the docking periods has also been used to develop and implement an LCVP rolling programme of Extended Support Periods of 12 weeks for each craft, further enhancing the availability of the landing craft.”

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