Babcock achieves milestone on QEC weapons handling system

A significant milestone has been reached on the Highly Mechanised Weapons Handling System (HMWHS) designed and built by Babcock for the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, with the delivery of the final set of doors this month, marking the end of three years of deliveries.

The QE Class HMWHS provides mechanical handling facilities for moving palletised munitions around the deep magazine and weapon preparation areas, and a series of weapons lifts to connect the magazines, hangar, weapon preparation area and flight deck.  This state-of-the-art system represents the first maritime application of shore-based commercial warehousing processes using automated systems with all-electric control, adapted for safe transport and stowage of munitions in a warship environment.  The system significantly reduces the manpower requirement for what is traditionally a labour-intensive, time-consuming and potentially hazardous process, helping to reduce through-life costs and maximise safety.

This final pair of hydraulically-operated lift doors for the weapons handling system are the last of a total of 38 delivered for the two new aircraft carriers.  Each ship has 19 doors of six different types, including horizontal sliding, vertical sliding, top hinged, lower and upper stage weapons lift hatches, and vertical sliding store doors, varying in size up to about 6m by 3m weighing around 6000kg, which are located in the four magazines, hangar, preparation area, and islands on the flight deck of each ship.  All the doors have been delivered to schedule.

The final set being delivered this month are vertical sliding doors for the hangar deck for the lower stage weapons lifts, measuring six by three metres, and weighing some 6000kg.  These are for the second aircraft carrier, and will be installed at Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard where the carriers are being assembled and integrated.

Prior to shipment the doors have undergone Factory Acceptance Testing.  This has involved full assembly of each door on a test frame, and testing of all operational movements and sensors, as well as checking the sealing with a grease or chalk test.  Further water pressure testing of the seals will be undertaken after installation of the doors.  Actual pressure requirements for each operation, and times to operate are also recorded during testing.  All tests are witnessed and endorsed by Lloyds Register as part of the approval process.

Babcock Senior Project Manager Jayne Page said: “The doors are a key component of the automated weapons handling system, which enables munitions to be delivered in bulk to the point of use at rates that could not be achieved by manual handling, and delivery of the last set is a significant milestone.  The only remaining key component now is the overhead handlers for the preparation areas and store.  These are currently in detail design and will be delivered towards the end of the installation phase.”

Source: Babcock International
Date: Jan 21, 2013