GE Marine announced it has delivered its first new lightweight LM2500 composite gas turbine module to Austal USA for the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32). Austal USA recognized the unique attributes of this new composite module design by bestowing GE Marine with its coveted Austal Supplier Innovation Award in 2018. GE is supplying 38 LM2500 gas turbines to Austal USA for LCS Independence variants up to LCS 38. Like all the Austal USA-built LCS, the future USS Santa Barbara will be powered by two GE LM2500 gas turbines arranged in a combined diesel and gas turbine configuration with two diesel engines. This new module, which was fully certified by the United States Navy in 2019 after receiving MIL-S-901D shock qualification, provides a 5,500-pound weight savings (50% wall weight reduction) and 60% quieter enclosure.
The Module Modernization Program (MMP) was a four-year collaborative effort with the U.S. Navy, Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, and GE. Changes to the LM2500 system include the composite module, components, and fewer shock mounts for weight reduction, all while leveraging the experience and loadings from previous LM2500 shock tests with running units. Components such as sensors, transducers, ice and flame detectors and the heater also were updated. Key GE strategic partners in this effort included: RL Industries, Fairfield, Ohio, for help in developing and qualifying the carbon fiber enclosure; and DRS Power Technology, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, a long-time GE Marine packaging partner, who helped lead the way in satisfying all first article inspection quality requirements and package assembly.
The LM2500 marine gas turbines are built at GE’s manufacturing facility in Evendale, Ohio. With a GE gas turbine, the U.S. Navy has worldwide support whether onshore or at sea, and interoperability benefits with other U.S. Navy and allied vessels. With GE’s split casing compressor and power turbine design, in-situ maintenance is allowed making a gas turbine removal unnecessary; navies save millions of dollars a year and weeks/months of ship unavailability. GE has delivered gas turbines onboard 646 naval ships serving 35 navies worldwide and provides 97% of the commissioned propulsion gas turbines in the U.S. Navy fleet.