Spotlight on industry: Blohm + Voss GMBH
Peterson, Gordon I
Sea Power: Herr von Nitzsch, as you observe your company’s 125th anniversary, what is new or different at Blohm and Voss-and what important shipbuilding traditions continue into the 21st century?
von Nitzsch: As of today our customer base for 60 “MEKO” frigates and corvettes consists of 11 nations around the globe, including the German Navy. The technology, of course, is evolving all the time, and our respective developments are placed at the disposal of our customers. For this reason, today’s custom is ed MEKO ships incorporate such design features as modularity, signature reduction, survivability, and international systems. Many of the MEKO’s systems are of U.S. origin.
In civil shipbuilding our “fast monohull” has experienced its first application and proved the concept’s potential. We believe that the virtues of good and sound workmanship, fair partnership with our clients and partners, and the will for constant innovation are the important traditions of our trade to be carried on into this century in order to serve our customers best as a prime contractor and system integrator-on time, on cost, and to specification.
What are some of your innovative design and construction techniques?
The tooling of our design offices and workshops is subject to continuing improvement. In terms of design, our efforts concentrate on SBD [simulation-based design] and PDM [product data management]. These modern IT [information technology] tools enhance reliability– from performance prediction to life-cycle support. For construction, we have the most modern combined laser-cutting and welding plant for steel processing in our industry. This enables us to produce assemblies to a technical quality unknown in the past. This, together with the restructuring of the company some years ago, postures us perfectly to meet the demands and requirements of today’s market.
Could you please summarize your main naval shipbuilding programs?
Together with our partners, we are building three F-124 frigates and, in the first batch of our contract, five K-130 corvettes for the German Navy; four MEKO A-200 corvettes for the South African Navy; and six MEKO 100 patrol boats in the first batch of a contract with PSC-NDSB [Penang Shipbuilding & Construction– Naval Dockyard Sendirian Berhad] for the Royal Malaysian Navy. We also are under contract for two MEKO A-100 frigates in the first batch for the Polish Navy. Furthermore, our sister shipyard, TNSW [Thyssen Nordseewerke] in Emden, in partnership with HDW [Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Weft] in Kiel, is building three AIP [air-independent propulsion] submarines of the U-212 type for the German Navy.
All of these programs have specific characteristics. The F-124 program entails the turnkey delivery of a completely new AAW [antiair warfare] ship with astonishing capabilities incorporating multinational developments. The delivery of the lead ship in this class, the Sachsen, is now running ahead of its contract schedule. The South African MEKO A200 features for the first time our development of a new propulsion system combining high efficiency, survivability, IR-signature reduction, and operational flexibility. The vessels are built in Germany, but their combat systems will be installed and tested in South Africa.
The K-130 corvette will, for the first time, operate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] on board for surveillance of littoral areas of operation. The Malaysian MEKO 100 ships are being built under a cooperative industrial venture between Malaysia and Germany.
The U.S. Navy is experimenting with different hull forms as part of its research into promising designs for future warships. Do you see an application for the Blohm and Voss “fast-monohull” design? The fast-monohull concept consists of a combination of a torpedo-shaped subsurface hullform with low-resistance qualities and a broad-beam hullform above the waterline that offers high stability. This design permits the use of a propeller with a large diameter, thus providing high propulsive efficiency. In the near future the German Navy will commission a SWATH [small waterplane area, twin-hull] research vessel built by TNSW.
The application of an unconventional SWATH hullform for a research-and-experimental craft that must remain at sea for long periods in northern areas is reasonable since this hullform offers superior seakeeping qualities. In the case of small high-speed craft, we investigated and tested very thoroughly the SES [surface effect ship] concept with an experimental unit during the 1980s and 1990s. However, there is little demand for that technology at this time. For the average combatants like frigates, we expect the monohull to remain the first choice due to its versatility.
What factors account for the success of your ship-repair work last year, and what is your outlook for 2002?
Because of our ability to respond very flexibly to any demand for a repair contract we are confident that our ship repair business will remain successful. The quality of our workmanship also grants us the confidence of our customers. In order to meet the requirements in the field of ship repair, it is essential for a shipyard to offer a large range of different branches in ship technology and mechanical engineering. Additionally, we also benefit from the industrial infrastructure of Hamburg.
Due to the constant growth of Hamburg harbor, we expect the demand for repair work to remain at least on the current level.
As Blohm and Voss is a Navy League corporate member, we extend our best wishes on your 125th anniversary. What is your outlook for your company’s next 125 years in the maritime industry?
Thank you for your anniversary greeting. To forecast 125 years into the future would be too bold, but we intend to be a member of the maritime industry for many more years, focusing on the strengths we have developed-namely, to stay at the cutting edge of technology and unsurpassed dedication toward our customers.
By GORDON I. PETERSON
Copyright Navy League of the United States Jul 2002
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