ExailABB has secured a breakthrough contract with the Spanish state-owned Navantia shipbuilding company to retrofit the Spanish Navy flagship, Juan Carlos I with an electrical propulsion system based on dual ABB Azipod units. Due completion in 2025, the project is the first of its kind on a naval ship. Following the commissioning, Juan Carlos I will benefit from enhanced efficiency and manoeuvrability to support its varied and demanding naval operations.

The contract follows a study undertaken by ABB in 2020 to determine the feasibility of installing new propulsors on the ship. The study identified ABB Azipod as a solution to meet the vessel’s requirements for reliability, efficiency, manoeuvrability and safety.

“Navantia is proud to make history with the first retrofit of this kind on a naval ship. ABB Azipod propulsion system has proven to be highly effective in ensuring the optimal capacity of our flagship vessel and we look forward to seeing the benefits in operation,” said a Navantia spokesperson.

“We are proud to see our Azipod propulsion system chosen for this project,” said Sindre Satre, Business Line Manager, Coast Guard and Navy, ABB Marine & Ports. “We already have a long track record with highly efficient solutions on the commercial market and now see that our technologies are becoming increasingly viable also for naval vessels.”

ABB’s scope of supply for Juan Carlos I comprises two Azipod® propulsors and medium-voltage drives, with support and maintenance available locally from the ABB service center in Spain and worldwide via ABB’s global service network.

While the order represents the first retrofit of an ABB Azipod propulsion system aboard a naval vessel, the solution has been maximising ship performance in the naval patrol segment for several years. In 2019, the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker KV Svalbard became the first Azipod-powered vessel to reach the North Pole, where the system’s manoeuvrability and icebreaking capabilities proved critical.

Across its 30-plus years in operation, Azipod propulsion has recorded an availability rate of 99.8 percent and has been shown to cut fuel consumption by up to 20 percent when compared with traditional shaftline propulsion systems. The solution’s high manoeuvrability eliminates the need for tugs in harbour operations and maximises safety, while its pioneering design minimises vibrations, saves space on board and facilitates maintenance as well as future refits.

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