According to sources in Defence, engineering innovation by technical sailors deployed on board Leeuwin Class hydrographic survey ship HMAS Melville has led to an increase in maximum propulsion power available to the ship.
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In hydrographic ships, the propulsion motor room (PMR) houses the ship’s main motors and gearboxes. This equipment generates heat through normal operation and the maximum propulsion output of the ship has previously been limited when operating in tropical climates by how effectively this heat can be dissipated.
Engineering innovation by technical sailors on board HMAS Melville has resulted in an increase in the maximum propulsion power available to support the ship’s involvement in task group operations, while improving normal operating conditions for essential machinery.
Under the leadership of Petty Officer Marine Technician Ryan Schweitzer, Melville's technical department recently investigated if the PMR could be cooled more effectively to allow the ship to operate its drive train at higher frequencies.
In theory, this would allow Melville to travel at higher average speeds while giving the added benefit of reducing the load on the propulsion train when operating at lower speeds. A broad cross-section of the ship’s technical staff were involved in thermographic mapping, airflow analysis and ambient air monitoring in order to prototype enhanced ventilation systems.
After testing and refinement of the enhanced ventilation system, analysis showed the enhanced design reduced the localised build-up of hot air around sensors and drive equipment.
Melville's Commanding Officer, Commander Michael Kumpis, congratulated the marine technicians on their hard work.
“This is another great example of Next Generation Navy at work with our MT sailors challenging themselves to come up with innovative solutions to fix problems and take action,” CMDR Kumpis said.
“Through those efforts, we have immediately enjoyed a positive impact on operations while ensuring our plant and equipment is effectively sustained for the long term.”
The improved ventilation allowed Melville to increase its maximum speed when conducting operations as part of Task Group 637.3.4 with HMA Ships Adelaide and Larrakia, providing a direct benefit to enhanced regional engagement activities with the local communities in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Jonathon Robarts said it was great to see the marine technicians in Melville were able to conduct a deep level technical investigation and produce tangible improvements using the ship’s organic capability.
“This is what a return on investment looks like when you invest in your people,” LCDR Robarts said.
After receiving a technical report on the investigation drafted by PO Schweitzer, the Hydrographic System Program Office provided cost-effective recommendations to fully implement a permanent solution.