NHP signs up for the Royal New Zealand Navy

A project with Tenix Marine has seen NHP supplied switchgear take to the high seas with the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The Protector Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), soon to be named HMNZS Otago once it’s commissioned by the Royal New Zealand Navy, was built from scratch at the Tenix Marine shipyard in Williamstown, Victoria.

Tenix Marine is a prime ship systems integrator in the Asia Pacific region, with a focus on the delivery of cost-effective solutions to complex defence and commercial projects for new builds and associated support activities.

The impressive 85 metre, 1583 tonne Offshore Patrol Vessel, when commissioned, will accommodate a crew of 49 with an additional 30 Embarked Forces personnel also catered for. The OPV is intended for patrol and response operations in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the South Pacific and the Ross Sea and has the ability to remain at sea for up to 21 days at a time. The OPV is also able to embark and operate a Royal New Zealand Navy SH-2G Seasprite helicopter and carry two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). Central to the ship’s fit out was the design and manufacture of CUBIC switchboards from NZ based supplier, McKay.

Established in 1936, McKay is one of New Zealand’s largest electrical and instrumentation companies. The business works all over the south eastern Pacific Rim on projects involving the petrochemical, dairy, power generation, aviation and marine industries.

Mark Carter, McKay’s Switchboard Manufacturing Manager, has a long history working with Royal New Zealand Naval vessels in switchboard design, manufacture and supply.

Mark explains that he and his team specified CUBIC switchboards for the HMNZS Otago for a range of reasons.

”CUBIC’s Modular System is super versatile, allowing all the individual requirements from the end-user, customer or consultant to be built in the switchboard,” Mark explained. “The CUBIC system also met the specifications required by the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Vessel Classification Society, Lloyds. We really had a competitive advantage with price and unit size and flexibility.”

McKay’s job was to manufacture, test, fit and make modifications on the ship’s main switchboard, the emergency switchboard, motor control centres and local distribution boards.

Once the switchgear was installed, Tenix’s Senior Engineering Officer, Bill Dale, and his team at Williamstown found the need for some extra specialised accessories and contacted NHP’s John Thornton, Product Manager for CUBIC Modular Switchboard Systems.

NHP supplied CUBIC cable connectors to enable ease of connection of both earth and neutral cables.

“The beauty of CUBIC is that it is truly an engineered electrical CUBICle system that can be sized to meet tight space limitations, like those on the Otago, but also more than meets Australian and New Zealand Electrical Standards,” John explains. “And their accessory range really is second to none.

” The result is that the CUBIC system provides light and power to all of the ship’s operations. In various locations around the vessel, power is distributed for lighting, ventilation, air conditioning, communications, water treatment, sewerage, steering, auxiliary propulsion and generator controls.

“Of specific benefit to the Otago is the CUBIC Multi Drawer system,” said McKay’s Mark Carter. “Each motor has an overload which protects it and contactors which can turn on and off in case of failure. With the CUBIC’s replaceable drawers, if there is a problem, you simply pull the drawer out and replace it with another. You can fix the drawer component at your leisure and there’s no downtime - vital if you’re at sea.”

“CUBIC equipment is ideal for a navy vessel like this,” explains Tenix’s Senior Engineering Officer, Bill Dale. “It can take a high level of seismic vibration, it’s built extra tough for mobile environments and the size of the boxes means we have super functionality in a series of compact units.

” The construction of the HMNZS Otago has taken place over a three year period and utilises the modular construction concept, pioneered in Australia by Tenix Marine. This form of construction allows for easier installation of major equipment such as the propulsion diesels and the CUBIC main switchboard.

“We’re very pleased to be able to help Tenix Marine in the construction of this world class patrol vessel,” says NHP’s John Thornton.

“Navy vessels have to be equipped for any contingency. Guaranteed supply and control of light and power is an absolute must,” he says.

“After all, when you’re 1,000 kilometres offshore, you need your essential services to be ultra reliable.”