From his privileged position that connects the direction of the Cartagena shipyard and the headquarters of the S-80 Plus program, Agustín Álvarez Blanco updates us the information of this very important program for the Navy, for Navantia and for the national defense industry, starting with which is located in the Murcia region.
In what situation is the S-80? Plus program now ???
The S-81 is in the final phase of construction after the closure of its rugged fuselage was completed last December. The premises are currently being completed and the wiring and interconnection work has moved forward significantly with a view to completing the first safety milestone, Power-Up, in October 2020. The S-82 Meets With the completed fuselage extensions, work will focus on making blocks, tension pulleys, pipes, lines and supports, as well as structural armament. The expansion rings have been completed on the S-83, and this will be completed in 2020. For the S-84, production of the resistant helmet will begin at the end of 2020. The two simulators, both the tactical and the platform, have already been loaned to the Navy for the training of the crew that has already started.
What are the latest and upcoming milestones?
Before the S-81 launch milestone, planned for the end of March 2021, is reached, the first two safety milestones of the submarine must be achieved: to be connected to the power supply at the end of October and be ready to ship batteries in December. In addition to the qualification tests of the tactical simulator, the end of the flank sonar assembly, the alignment of the wavy line and the completion of the installation of the torpedo tubes are also important.
What is the impact of the pandemic situation we had to live in?
Work on the S-80 program has been badly affected since the royal decree to activate the alarm condition on March 14. Currently, productive activities have been 100 percent reactivated, the entire pre-COVID collaborative industry has returned to work, and the demanding protocols provided for coexistence in Navantia’s occupational health and safety regulations are being successfully applied with COVID-19. The deliveries and technical support of national and international suppliers who are also affected by COVID-19 have also been rescheduled. Since the beginning of the crisis, there has been constant and fluid contact with the DGAM, which immediately resumes the weekly formal meetings by telematics and also agrees on a new basis for the program planning.
Will the first two submersibles carry some elements of the AIP that are already waiting for the reformer?
Since their construction, the submarines S-81 and S-82 will have tanks in which the reagents required by our AIP BEST system, ie bioethanol and liquid oxygen, are stored. The equipment that makes up the system has been designed so that in the future it can be broken into parts through the access hatches, eliminating the need to cut the hull in the future to incorporate it. The development of the bioethanol reformer has brought about the need to adapt and integrate with the other elements of the system. Therefore, shipping will be done together in the first large hull of these units. At this point the first system on the S-83 is already operational.
Has the Navy implemented plans to increase the number of originally planned submarines?
The program consists of 4 units and no official plans have been transferred to Navantia to increase the number.
How much does the national industry contribute to the program and in which areas?
The Department of Defense and Navy submarine program S-80 is a priority to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy and the jobs created by construction at the Navantia shipyard in Cartagena. In addition, the program is of strategic importance for the technological and industrial positioning of both Navantia and the numerous Spanish companies that participate. National industry has a very relevant weight in the S-80 program. This collaboration takes place in all areas of the program, from developing the systems and supplying the main equipment to building the submarine itself, with construction support, safety studies or quality control being carried out.
Companies like Gamesa, the developer of the main electric motor, stand out. Fluidmecánica, which supplies the hydraulic systems; o Gabadi, who manufactures and integrates the on-board habitability module. Of particular note are Abengoa Innovación and its bioethanol processing system, with which the submarine S-80 is a world leader in AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) technology, allowing more than 15 days of autonomy in immersion. It is very important to highlight the role of Navantia Sistemas in which the manager is detailed, as well as the collaboration of two leading national partners: SAES and Indra.
The construction of the submarine at the Navantia plants of the Cartagena shipyard enables the development and maintenance of an industrial fabric developed as part of the submarine program. Companies specialize in productive works for the manufacture and assembly of structures, pipes and equipment, wiring and connections. The participation of national companies in the quality control of the submarine should also be emphasized, which, due to its special navigation properties, requires the use of very high quality standards. These standards favor the development of a core of expert companies and the study of new groundbreaking techniques in Spain.
What does Navantia and the submarine require to participate in international programs?
With this program, Navantia was to take on the role of engineering design authority for the first time. This has made it necessary to hone the design skills already there and develop many others. On this way, the cooperation with international technologists was very important, especially the support from the US Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat. Today we have a considerable technical capacity with the necessary experience in submarines and are ready to face new designs and the life cycle of the S-80.
At the same time, it was necessary to build a unique industrial ecosystem where our own design skills and those of the staff, supply chain and technological support (centers and universities) working on the infrastructure of the First Stage at Cartagena Shipyard for the Development of the key processes of this product. All of this enables Navantia to compete in the international market and we are currently participating in the 6 submarine competition for India known as the P-75 (I). After being pre-qualified by the Indian Ministry of Defense together with four other international designers in January of this year, we took part in this program with a further development of the submarine S-80, which was adapted to customer requirements and the participation requirements of the local industry. . The S-80 as a starting point is the design that comes closest to the requirements and therefore presents the least risk.
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