Wednesday, 17 June 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Bridge and Ops Room Tour

As the largest ship (nominally) in commission with the RCN, it might not be a surprise that PRESERVER also has the largest bridge. Located at the top and forward end of the forward superstructure island, it spans the full 76 foot beam of the ship (if one includes the two bridge wings). 

Looking to port on the bridge of PRESERVER.
Perhaps due to its size, and because the AOR's don't have all the sensors and weapons found on the frigates and destroyers, PRESERVER's bridge is comparatively uncluttered. Up front are the chairs for the CO and XO, while immediately behind is the control console housing the steering and engine telegraph. I believe the XO's chair is shown here, on the starboard side.

This compass is located roughly on the ship's centreline.
The two grey boxes hanging on either side of the window above the compass indicate RPM (for the shaft I assume) and rudder position. 

Looking to port and slightly aft.

Looking to starboard. The grey console is (I think) the chart plotter, with the chart table to the right.
PRESERVER's Ops room is immediately aft of the bridge on the port side of the ship, and is home to various radar displays. For this reason, I suspect the grey box in the centre of the image above is the electronic chart plotter. Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong. I believe the CO's chair is on the port side, shown in the photo above. Beyond the chart plotter is the helm station.

Helm station.

Helm station, with the engine telegraph to the right, and a SHINCOM panel (black with blue, orange, and white buttons) below.
Above the helm station are what I suspect are two gyro compass readouts. Somewhere in here will be the controls for the bow thruster, either to the right or left of the helm, but I am not sure which. 

I suspect this panel repeats some of the information from the MCR regarding engine and boiler operation, but annoyingly the image is too blurry to zoom in and read the details.
In addition to the bridge shown above, there is also an open bridge on the deck above. Although previous generations of warships could be expected to be operated from the open bridge (indeed, many WWII warships had ONLY an open bridge), PRESERVER normally only staffs the open bridge with lookouts during Replenishment At Sea (RAS) operations. However, basic information displays are available (I suspect rudder position and RPM to match the ones on the bridge below, and probably a patch into the ship's comms, but I didn't get a good shot) so presumably the ship could be commanded from this position if necessary, although I suspect that any event that takes out the main bridge would also take out the open bridge directly above.

Looking forward on the port side of the open bridge. The port "big-eye" can be seen in the image centre.
The open bridge is accessed via the ladder to the left, coming up from the port bridge wing. There is an identical ladder on the starboard side. The platform to the right of the photo most recently supported the Phalanx CIWS, however, this was removed several years ago to reduce maintenance costs and manning requirements on these ships. 

Looking to starboard. A compass, and what I suspect are rudder position and RPM displays, are on the centreline. The starboard "big-eye" can also be seen in the background, along with a few searchlights.
The photo above shows how exposed the open bridge on PRESERVER is, much more so than ships where the open bridge was intended to be regularly used at sea, and would not have been a pleasant place to be in any sort of weather. I seem to remember being told that it was typically used mainly when coming into port, but I may be wrong and lookouts may be kept above more than that. The open bridge is used during RAS operations, while lookouts would normally be posted to the port and starboard bridge wings.

Ops room looking forward and to starboard. The bridge is through the door to the left.
The ops room is situated immediately aft of the bridge, and is home to displays for the various radars on the ship. Presumably the two local control panels for the Phalanx CIWS would have been installed here as well, before they were removed. The three radar displays from centre to left of the image are, from left to right, for the SPS 502 air/surface search, the masthead F-band navigation radar, and the I-band navigation radar (mid-mast). There is a fourth display partially obscured to the right, which is presumably for the bridge-mounted Furuno navigation radar.

PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER were originally fitted with ASW sonar domes which could be raised or lowered, however, the sonars themselves are not fitted (and may never have been fitted). Presumably the displays for the sonars would have been installed here if the sonars themselves were ever fitted.

On the modern frigates, the Ops room is several decks below the bridge, whereas PRESERVER's bridge crew has easy access without resorting to ladders.

As always, comments and corrections are welcome.

Friday, 5 June 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Tour of electical power generation and the bow thruster

Where the power generating equipment is located across multiple spaces, some of which I have already covered, I decided to break out my summary of power generation onboard PRESERVER into a separate blog posting. As a result, a few photos and descriptions from previous postings may get repeated here. This should be read in coordination with those earlier postings covering the engine room, boiler room, and machinery control room

I will also cover the bow thruster, as it is powered by a rather large diesel engine that isn't in the engine room. As always, I will note that I am by no means an expert on these systems, and am relying on information gleaned from my guides during my tour as well as my own assumptions. Mistakes are my own!

Electrical power generation onboard a warship is a particularly critical capability, required to start propulsions engines, run hotel loads and combat systems, and is therefore designed for redundancy. In PRESERVER, this means that three types of generators (2 steam turbines, 2 diesels, and 1 gas turbine) are distributed across three different spaces (engine room, boiler room, and forward of the bridge respectively).  

Port turbo-alternator (steam turbine generator).
While at sea, the two 1000 kW turbo-alternators (installed port and starboard in the engine room) would normally provide the majority, if not all, of the ship's power requirements. Being steam driven, these generators require steam from the boilers, so these generators would not be used while the ship is alongside with cold boilers. Therefore, in order to provide power to start up the boilers, power is required from other sources.

Poor quality video capture of the two diesel generators, looking forward and to starboard.
The two 500 kW diesel generators are located port and starboard in the boiler room, between the two boilers - this should put them on the ship's centreline. The diesel generators are more or less self contained, and can begin generating power fairly soon after a cold start. The diesels would provide power to the boilers to get steam up, after which power generation would be transferred to the turbo-alternators, and the diesels would be shut down to save fuel. Not only are the diesel generators separated from the turbo-alternators by being located in separate spaces within the ship, they also rely on a separate fuel source, providing additional redundancy. 

Gas turbine generator.
Located forward on No.1 deck on the starboard side of the deckhouse forward of the bridge is the emergency generator compartment, home to a single gas turbine generator. I believe this is the same model as used in the IROQUOIS class destroyers, albeit in a different type of enclosure. If so, this is a Solar Saturn unit rated for 750 kW. Gas turbine generators have the advantage of being able to run up to full power from a cold start almost instantaneously, and therefore they have great value as emergency generators that can come online very quickly when other sources of electricity unexpectedly fail. In addition to being able to be started using local controls, this generator could be fired up remotely from the Machinery Control Room (MCR).

In the photo above, we are looking at the generator enclosure, with the generator itself being installed inside. As I recall, the exhaust pipe for this generator exits the ship not quite six feet above deck level on the starboard side, and is therefore a bit of a head knocker for those not paying attention.

Another angle on the Solar Saturn gas turbine generator.
It is my assumption that the gas turbine generator would not typically be used either alongside or at sea, apart from occasionally being exercised, and that it would be reserved for emergency use. I could be wrong.

Gas turbine local switchboard.
There is a local switchboard installed in the same compartment as the gas turbine generator.

For lack of a better spot, I will also cover the bow thruster here. 

Bow thruster diesel engine.
Being rather large, and driven by a single shaft, these ships are not the most maneuverable. During a refit at some point, during the 1990s I believe, both PRESERVER and PROTECTEUR received bow thrusters to reduce their reliance on tugboat assistance when leaving port or coming back alongside. The bow thruster is effective at speeds of up to 5 knots, and is driven by its own direct drive diesel engine. This diesel does not generate electrical power, but rather is connected mechanically to the bow thruster by a vertical shaft.

Bow thruster diesel engine
I  believe the vertical cylinder on the end of the diesel engine in the photo above is the top of the direct drive shaft leading down to the bow thruster. I am assuming that either the diesel would have to reverse direction in order to allow the bow thruster to direct thrust from port to starboard, or the impeller would need to have adjustable pitch blades. I didn't think to ask at the time, so I don't know how this is done. 

Bow thruster impeller tunnel.
The bow thruster impeller itself is necessarily installed very low in the ship's hull, and we descended several ladders to reach this compartment. I believe this photo is taken looking to port. The impeller for the bow thruster is installed in a water-tight tunnel, as seen here, which allows it to throw water out either side of the ship. The tunnel is roughly as tall as a man, and the direct drive shaft enters the tunnel at top-centre in this photo.

In the compartment above the bow thruster are the guts of the blackwater (sewage) treatment system onboard PRESERVER. The blackwater tanks are in close proximity, and no space on a warship goes unused.