In a deal which has been anticipated for much of 2012, Rolls-Royce, announced today that they have won the contract to power the U.S. Navy’s future fleet of hovercrafts, known as the Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC).
For the US Navy, this agreement makes a lot of sense.
The SSC will be powered by the Rolls-Royce MT7 turbines, which is essentially the marine version of the AE1107 engine found on the US Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey aircraft. Both the V-22 and the SSC will be deployed from the same US Navy amphibious assault ships which allows a much more streamlined spare parts inventory and maintenance solution.
In an announcement this past July, Textron Marine & Land Systems was selected by the US Navy to build the initial development craft, in a program that could extend to 73 craft. The SSC will replace the Navy’s current fleet of Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft over the next 20 years. The new hovercraft will be used to rapidly deploy personnel and vehicles between U.S. Navy ships and the shore.
Andrew Marsh, Rolls-Royce, President – Naval commented: “This is an exciting and significant project for Rolls-Royce to be involved with. Our gas turbine technology will increase the power of the hovercraft by 25 per cent, compared to the previous generation, enabling each craft to transport up to 74 tons of cargo at speeds over 35 knots. At the same time our engines will improve fuel efficiency by 11 percent. We look forward to working with Textron and the Navy during the development and entry into service of these highly versatile craft.”
On each hovercraft, the MT7 gas turbines will be connected to a sophisticated gearbox system providing both propulsion and lift. Rolls-Royce will also design and manufacture the air intake and exhaust systems.
The MT7 combines modern turbine materials and technology to provide a state-of-the-art power system suited to a range of naval applications such as main propulsion and power generation. It leverages the robust performance and reliability of the Rolls-Royce AE engine family which has accumulated more than 45 million operating hours.
The MT7 is the latest Rolls-Royce gas turbine to be selected to power a major U.S. Navy program, and follows the highly power-dense 36MW MT30 which is installed in the Freedom class Littoral Combat Ships and will also provide electrical power for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyers.