Finning to supply bespoke generators to two Royal Navy mine hunter vessels

Finning UK and Ireland (Finning), the UK’s sole supplier of Cat®engines, has been contracted to supply bespoke replacement salvage generators for Royal Navy mine countermeasure vessels (MCMVs).

Designed to locate and destroy naval mines, and built by Vosper Thornycroft, the Hunt Class vessels will be supplied with a Cat C4.4 core generator customised for military loads and the ability to operate in extreme environments. The Finning-supplied units will replace existing salvage generators in accordance with upgrades planned by the Royal Navy.

Salvage generators ensure critical vessel functions, such as steering, machinery control and critical ship safety systems remain online in the event of total electrical failure. As such, a vessel cannot go to sea without an operational salvage generator. Crucially for MCMVs, the unit also powers the degaussing system that controls the ship’s low magnetic signature, which can trigger naval mines if unshielded.

With this in mind, any unit supplied as a salvage generator has to meet very strict criteria. As well as emitting a low magnetic field that meets an MCMV’s electromagnetic capacity, the generator needs to tolerate extreme temperatures and suit the challenging environments MCMVs must withstand. Furthermore, the supplied unit must be able to endure the very high shock levels it may be exposed to during mine-clearing operations.

Following a two-year design process, Finning modified the existing Cat C4.4 core generator model to meet the Royal Navy’s requirements. The new generator is packaged within a shock-resistant GRP and stainless-steel enclosure, designed for high and low temperatures, with a weather-resistant IP rating. The original model’s magnetic iron casing has also been fitted with a degaussing solution that compensates the generator’s magnetic signature.

This new Finning-designed model was successfully tested by the Royal Navy in November 2017 and successfully underwent physical shock testing in October 2018 to confirm it could withstand the highest shock requirements and remain operational. For MCMVs, meeting this need is crucial.

Following successful testing, the generators were installed on HMS Chiddingfold in February 2019 and will be installed on to the rest of the class in due course. This is the latest project in Finning’s decade-long partnership with the Royal Navy, having previously provided generators for the Archer Class P2000 border control and submarine escort ships, as well as Hunt Class warships and River Class offshore patrol vessels.