Colombian Navy modernisation project

30 Dec 2011
One of the new MTU 1163 TB 73L is craned onboard a Colombian navy frigate

One of the new MTU 1163 TB 73L is craned onboard a Colombian navy frigate

After 30 years of service, the Colombian Navy’s Almirante Padilla class frigates are being modernised at the Cotecmar naval dockyard.

The Almirante Padilla, Caldas, Antioquia and Independiente have been fitted with new MTU main propulsion engines, on-board gensets and automation systems. Each ship’s four 20-cylinder 1163 TB 82 main engines have been replaced by four 16-cylinder 1163 TB 73L units, driving CP propellers through CODAD gearboxes.

Because gearbox and propeller load acceptance remained unchanged, MTU engineers reduced engine power from 5,200kW (at 1,230 to 1,280rpm) to 4,290kW (at 1,160 to 1,200rpm) in order to achieve the best possible alignment with the vessels’ requirements. The vessel repowering also increases the time between major overhauls from 9,000h with the previous engines to 24,000h with the new units, which means that the engines will not be due for complete overhaul until around 20 years from now, by which time the ships will have reached the end of their operational lives.

The series 1163 has been one of the most commonly-used engines for frigates and corvettes for many years, which MTU puts down to their reliability, high power density and acceleration characteristics. Weighing in at 22.8tons, series 1163 engines offer a power-to-weight ratio of upo to 1kg/kW, and a power-to-volume figure of over 200kW/m3 which provides speed and manoeuvrability during operational missions.

As part of the repower project, the propellers, shafts and gearboxes were overhauled and updated, and a resilient mounting system fitted which reduces structure-borne noise by 20dB-A compared with the previous system. Water-cooled exhaust lines and sequential turbocharging reduce the level of airborne noise. The old MTU 396-powered auxiliaries were replaced with new 8-cylinder series 2000 gensets which will provide power for galley, radar, communications and pump drives while complying with IMO Tier II limits. The new gensets offer up to 5% better fuel economy at full load, they are physically smaller and around 20% lighter in weight.

MTU’s Callosum automation system, with nearly double the measurement points of the previous system, ensures that each pair of propulsion engines operates at optimum levels to meet current operational requirements. The Callosum system additionally controls the on-board gensets and other vessel systems for maximum efficiency. If irregularities or malfunctions are identified, the crew is able to limit potential damage in advance and clear the fault independently — a major advantage, especially during extended periods at sea.

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