SIGMA 10514 PKR frigates
In December 2012 Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) signed a contract for two Damen SIGMA 10514 PKR frigates with the Ministry of Defence of Indonesia. The vessels will contribute to the modernisation and expansion of the Indonesian Navy, TNI-AL, carrying out military, security and humanitarian duties.
The contract specified that the vessels’ modules would be constructed jointly at DSNS Vlissingen, the Netherlands, and PT PAL (Persero) Shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia. Final assembly and commissioning would then take place at Surabaya.
Applying a Modular Building Strategy
Building a first-of-class vessel outside its own yard was a new challenge for DSNS, and this was addressed by developing the Modular Building Strategy. It is always easier to resolve the complications of building a first-of-class design in one’s own yard; primarily because the feedback is better with short lines of communication and established relationships between personnel. With any design modifications more likely to be required in the most complex areas of the vessels, the key element of the modular building strategy was the agreement that the most sophisticated modules should initially be built at the DSNS yard in Vlissingen in the Netherlands.
This building strategy also came with additional advantages. One of these was that it enabled the training of personnel at PT PAL (Persero) Shipyard and the preparation of the facilities required to build the most complex sections of the frigates to take place at the same time as work was moving ahead. Another was that building modules at the same time in two different locations provided the opportunity to shorten the overall production time. For the first PKR it was decided to build modules 3 and 5 in Vlissingen. Module 3 is the power plant, and contains not only the engine room with the main engines and gearboxes, but also the auxiliary engine rooms holding the main generators, switchboard rooms and most of the other platform related equipment.
Module 5, the bridge and command centre module, contains the entire combat management system plus the navigation and communications equipment. Meanwhile, modules 1, 2, 4 and 6, are being built in Surabaya. These contain more than 65% of the total steel work in the ship. With the second PKR frigate, only module number five will be built in Vlissingen. The power plant module will be built in Surabaya.
SIGMA 10514 PKR Frigates speeding ahead
Two years on from the signing of the contracts, work is progressing swiftly. Steel cutting for the first vessel got underway in January 2014 and in September 2014 for the second. DSNS and PT PAL (Persero) expect the PKR 1 frigate to be afloat in January 2016, after which commissioning will take place. Both DSNS and PT PAL (Persero) are confident that the first PKR frigate will enter service with the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) in accordance with the master schedule, in January 2017.
The benefits of a flexible approach
The adoption of a modular building strategy brings with it a range of possibilities when it comes to future projects for Damen. From a production point of view, building separate modules at different locations brings new levels of flexibility, as well as increasing opportunities for the transfer of technology and enabling shorter delivery times through concurrent building at different locations.
Modular construction also brings with it design advantages as individual modules can be modified and, when combined with existing modules, introduce new capabilities without the need to redesign an entire vessel. In one example, Damen’s SIGMA 9814 (98-metre) frigate uses four of the same modules as the 105-metre version, with just the power plant and the superstructure closing modules being different. This delivers both a more cost-effective production process and faster delivery times.
Transfer of Technology
The contract between Damen and Indonesia’s defence ministry includes an exceptionally extensive technology transfer programme that has the explicit aim of establishing a centre of naval shipbuilding expertise at the PT PAL (Persero) shipyard.
The programme encompasses the training of engineers across all disciplines, as well as planners, purchasers, combat specialists, welders, construction workers and commissioning engineers. This is taking place at both at the DSNS shipyard in Vlissingen and at the PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya. The more highly educated staff and foremen are being trained in Vlissingen and, based on the principle of ‘training the trainer’, these foremen under the supervision of Damen specialists will then go on to train the remaining workers at PT PAL appointed to work on the PKR frigates. At the same time, Damen specialists are assisting PT PAL with the optimization of their production facilities, introducing new building techniques and improving the planning methodology to prepare PT PAL for a successful future in advanced naval shipbuilding.
The fact that, over two years on from the initial agreement, the programme is still on target with the contractually-agreed master schedule is clear proof of its success and the commitment of both PT PAL and DSNS to this joint endeavour.