US Navy takes delivery of first fully-electric power and propulsion vessel

The US Navy's new stealth destroyer, the <i>USS Zumwalt</i>, is its first fully-electric power and propulsion vessel.The US Navy’s new stealth destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, is its first fully-electric power and propulsion vessel.

The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first fully-electric power and propulsion ship. The vessel is the first of three DDG 1000 class destroyers to enter service.

For navies around the globe, power and energy are mission enablers, according to Kevin Byrne, who leads the North American marine segment for GE’s Power Conversion business. “Because electric power is needed for various operations and mission systems in parallel, this full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform,” he said.

The electric propulsion solution delivers efficiency, cost-of-ownership reductions, and system redundancy for enhanced vessel safety. In addition, machinery layout is more flexible and configurable for containment and isolation.

Employing GE’s innovative and Integrated Power System (IPS), the DDG 1000 has the capacity to distribute electricity across the entire ship, allowing for enhanced power flexibility for various operational requirements.

Both of GE’s drive trains have two electric motors in tandem. VDM25000 power converters with three independent channels accompany the 15-phase AIM. Each motor drive train can operate on 5, 10, or 15 phases. This provides high redundancy and is more economical when running at lower power. GE’s AIM drive train was selected to meet the requirements of the ZUMWALT Class Destroyer.

For the full-electric propulsion system, GE leveraged its proven technologies, building from the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) land-based test site and its Marine Power Test Facility in the UK, alongside the UK Royal Navy Type 45 program, Byrne explained. “The US Navy gets benefits from our other platforms that we then could apply to the DDG 1000 and future platforms.”

With 72 MW of propulsion power, GE’s Integrated Full Electric Propulsion (IFEP) system comprises all shipboard electrical power generation and propulsion including the propulsion motor, VDM25000 variable speed drives, switchboards, and HV equipment. Offering improved efficiency, the electric drive eliminates the need for the drive shaft and reduction gears and brings benefits in acoustic signature reduction, an increase in available power for operational requirements and improvements in the quality of life for crew. The all-electric propulsion of Zumwalt also generates additional reserved power, allowing the integration of future high-energy defence systems and sensors.

In addition to the USS Zumwalt, the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) is also undergoing combat systems activation. The third and final ship of the class, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), is under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

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