The WR-21 gas turbine engine will be employed by the Royal Navy and potentially by the United States and French Navies in their future Integrated Full Electric Powered Surface Combatants. The WR-21 is an advanced cycle gas turbine that will not only meet the high power generator prime mover requirements of these ships but also offer an efficient cruise generator engine in one power dense package. The engine gives ship designers the freedom to procure, install and maintain one engine to power the vessel over its entire operating profile in place of the traditional two engine ‘cruise’ and ‘boost’ fit. Warship operators will also have a new freedom to configure the warship propulsion plant to return unprecedented Platform Life Cycle Cost reductions in peacetime while retaining operational capability in time of conflict.
The Royal Navy is the first user of the WR-21 Intercooled and Recuperated (ICR) gas turbine engine in its Type 45 Area Defense destroyer. The vessel is a 6000 tonne monohull, fitted with an integrated electric propulsion plant comprising two WR-21 Gas Turbine Alternators (GTAs), the prime mover side of which are capable of delivering 25 MW (ISO) and the Alternator side of which is rated at 21.6 MWe (0.9 pf lagging), 4.16KVA. These GTAs in combination with a pair of diesel generators rated at around 2 MWe (0.9 pf lagging) will provide electrical power to two 20 MWe (0.9 pf lagging) 4.16 KVA electric propulsion motors and to the ship’s non propulsion consumer electrical distribution system. Any combination of generator set can provide any consumer with electrical power.
This flexibility of propulsion plant configuration will demand a step change in operating culture if its ultimate benefits are to be truly harnessed. Every part of warship propulsion and gas turbine engine operating philosophy must be examined to check its relevance in the modern machinery outfit. The engines themselves must be scrutinized to ensure that they can fulfill the requirements of true ship generation machinery and are not regarded as ‘propulsion generators’. In a Warship that has only four sources of electrical power the principles of survivability and prime mover independence are fundamental.