Babcock and SEA team up for Submarine Communications Buoy Project

Babcock and SEA (Systems Engineering and Assessment) have set up a teaming agreement to bid for the planned Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) for the future Vanguard Replacement Programme (VRP) Submarine Communications Buoy (SCB) system.

The UK MoD is planning a programme to develop a towed SCB system for the future SSBN (similar to that used on the Vanguard class) to meet the future communication requirements of this new platform.  A TDP is planned as a precursor to the system, and an invitation to tender for the programme was released last month (December).

Babcock has been involved with the MoD’s SCB development programme since the first contract went out to industry for tender in 2008, and has previously been contracted by the MoD to undertake concept design and assessment, analysis, model testing and platform integration studies.  The company has already expressed interest in the next stage: the forthcoming TDP.

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Babcock and SEA have combined forces to bid for the technically challenging SCB TDP, forming a team with the high technical capability needed to undertake the design, development, manufacture and through-life aspects of the project, which is expected to have extremely demanding, stringent reliability and signature requirements.  The towed SCBs must be capable of receiving Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio signals at any time and in all weather conditions and will have to operate in a complex dynamic environment, therefore requiring expertise in a wide range of disciplines.  To achieve continuous communications the buoy must remain at a controlled depth below the sea surface, while remaining covert.  The SCB design must be able to respond and control its flight over a range of flow conditions, including large amplitude irregular waves coming from any direction.

Babcock and SEA represent an impressive combination of TDP experience, technical know-how and complimentary skills required to deliver the SCB TDP successfully.  Babcock brings significant experience in the design, development, manufacture, support, installation, repair and maintenance of submarine mechanical and electromechanical systems.  The company has undertaken studies of the existing towed VLF buoy system, analysis of alternatives conducted in the UK, hydrodynamic modelling data and trade studies, as well as having experience and expertise in handling systems, underwater winch technology and submarine trials including TDPs.

SEA is a systems engineering company specialising in bringing complex systems technologies to maturity, and is experienced in delivering TDPs, with significant domain expertise in developing simulation environments, particularly high level architecture, and in conducting submarine system integration, test and trials.  The two companies have previously worked together successfully on the Sonar 2112 programme in 2004.

Under the teaming agreement, Babcock takes responsibility for project management, safety, design and manufacturing, with SEA taking on TDP management, systems integration, systems engineering and simulation and validation.

Babcock Future Business Development Manager James Date comments: “We are delighted to be teaming with SEA to bid for the SCB TDP.  The Babcock-SEA team will combine Babcock’s strengths in engineering design and manufacture with SEA’s flair for innovation and technology insertion, offering the high level of experience and technical expertise required to meet the challenges and deliver the SCB TDP successfully.  Babcock’s work to date has already contributed significantly to understanding the issues and building a body of knowledge on which to base a future design.  We look forward to working with SEA to bid for the TDP and continue our involvement in the SCB programme.”

Source: Babcock International
Date: Feb 20, 2012