US Navy Cuts Back Hybrid Drive Program
(Source: Forecast International; issued March 12, 2018)
WASHINGTON --- The U.S. Navy is canceling a program to install a new hybrid electric drive system in new-production DDG-51 class destroyers. Only one destroyer, DDG-103 Truxtun, will be equipped with the technology. The Navy has requested $6.3 million for 2018 to finish the installation on Truxtun, but has zeroed out funding in 2019 and in the out years.

The service has spent about $52 million on the program to date. The whole program was expected to cost $356.25 million, according to the Navy’s FY2017 budget submission.

The hybrid drive system takes power from the ship's auxiliary generators and uses it to drive an electric motor coupled to the main reduction gearing. This allows the LM2500 main propulsion gas turbines to be idled when the ship is moving at slow speeds or requires extreme noise reduction.

However, as development progressed, a number of problems began to materialize. These included issues with the power distribution system and the inability of the generators to provide enough power to accommodate both driving the ship and operating the electronic equipment.

It has also been discovered that, while an objective of the hybrid power system was to economize on fuel, the savings made were much less than projected. This suggested that the most prudent course of action was to run the system in a single test ship before committing to the concept for a whole class.


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