16 Februari 2011
Mk32 Mod torpedo launcher (photo : Naval History)
Assembly of the Mk32 Mod 9 torpedo launchers for the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers is now underway at Babcock's Techport Australia premises, marking an important milestone in the contract. Babcock Pty Ltd, part of Babcock International Group, was awarded the contract in December 2008 by Raytheon Australia Pty Ltd, on behalf of the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Alliance.
Two Mk32 Mod 9 torpedo launcher assemblies will be mounted in magazine compartments, port and starboard, on each of the three Hobart class AWDs. Originally designed for the US Navy, the Mod 9 launcher is a twin barrelled variant of the Mk32 launchers currently in operation on Anzac and FFG frigates in Australia and will be modified to discharge Eurotorp MU90 torpedoes.
Babcock engineers and technicians are now commencing assembly of the launchers, which will take around seven months for all six launchers (three ship sets), and will be followed by Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) of each set at Babcock's newly developed facility at Techport, South Australia. FAT will involve safety and interlock checks and the measurement of additional system parameters during the discharge of a dummy weapon from the launchers into a specially designed rig.
Under the contract to date, the first phase has seen Babcock working closely with the US Naval Underwater Weapons Centre at Rhode Island, and transfer of a technical data pack to Australia under a license granted by the US Department of State, in accordance with appropriate US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The data pack provides the basis for the procurement, manufacture, assembly and test of the equipment in Australia. Babcock now has the system and processes in place to handle ITAR controlled design information and procure ITAR controlled hardware through its US network.
Manufacture of component parts, including barrels, quadrants, breech locking rings, and air charging panels, as well as a number of major sub-assemblies, has also been on-going during the first phase of the contract. While some equipment has been sourced from specialist international suppliers, all other work is being carried out in Australia, representing around 60% of the contract value.
"Having the component parts and sub-assemblies arrive at our Techport Australia site, and starting the assembly process, marks an exciting and important milestone in this contract," Babcock director Pat Donovan comments. "Delivery of the completed launchers is on track against our project schedule, and ahead of the customer's required delivery date of September 2011 for the first ship-set."