George Awiszus, military marketing director of GE Marine, discusses the outlook for the company’s LM2500 engine that drives warships in more than 30 nations and the future of shipboard power with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference and tradeshow in Northern Virginia. We are an SNA media partner for the event and our coverage is sponsored by Huntington Ingalls Industries, GE Marine, L3 Technologies and Leonardo DRS.
Marketing Manager, GE Marine Systems
Surface Navy Association Conference
Vago Muradian: Welcome to the Defense and Aerospace Report. I’m Vago Muradian here at the Surface Navy Association’s Annual Conference and Trade Show, the leading gathering of U.S. Navy Surface Warriors from around the world to talk about the future of the United States Surface Force and indeed the United States Navy. We’re partnered with the SNA on this effort, and our coverage here is sponsored by Huntington Ingalls Industries, General Electric Marine, L3 Technologies and Leonardo DRS.
We’re here on the General Electric Stand to talk to George Awiszus who is Marketing Manager for Marine Systems here at GE. George, great to see you again.
George Awiszus: Good to see you again, Vago.
Mr. Muradian: Surface Navy is one of the great shows because you just run into so many friends and also get updated on a whole bunch of stuff that’s going on.
You guys have kind of a unique marine power distinction where it’s 34 navies if I’m —
Mr. Awiszus: Thirty-five navies. We’re up to 35 navies since last year.
Mr. Muradian: — around the world that depend on the LM2500 which has been a benchmark power plant in the United States Navy stretching back to the Oliver Hazard Perry Class, the first ships using it. Then we were in the Spruance Class, in the Arleigh Burke as well. There is ongoing frigate competition and you were on four of those potential candidates.
Talk to us a little bit about what you’re hearing from the Navy about what it wants to do with shipboard power, propulsion. We heard from Ron Boxall, the Director of Surface Warfare — we spoke to him as well — where he was talking about the large surface combatant and elements of commonality in this in terms of reducing that long-term service cost.
Talk to us about some of the messaging you’re getting and some of the hints you’re getting from the Navy about what it wants in its future propulsion, integrated propulsion systems. Or integrated ship power systems.
Mr. Awiszus: Sure. There’s two new ship programs that are coming on that you mentioned. The Future Frigate, which will be replacing the Littoral Combat Ship and then the Large Surface Combatant which will be replacing the DDG 51. From our perspective, we’re on 1200 LM2500s have been delivered all over the world. But what we’re hearing on the Future Frigate and these other ships is that they want more power in the same amount of space. They want power density.
The other thing they’ve asked is they’ve asked for the term flexible. So what does that mean? I can put so much power on and I can grow as time is needed.
What we’re doing with our LM2500s, is we have a 22 megawatt, a 26 megawatt which was 14 inches longer, and a 30 megawatt which was the same 14 inches longer. We’re making all three the same size so that the Navy can pick or the shipyards can pick 22, 26 or 30 megawatts, all in the same size, and that way they have capability to grow. Which is also important.
Frigates are typically volume constrained. So if you go on board a ship nowadays, you’re really crammed in the maintenance space and you don’t have room. So now we give the sailors and the Navy the room they need and they can put more power in the amount of space that they have.
Mr. Muradian: One of the things you guys pride yourselves on is being able to be serviced in the ship, right? So you don’t have to pull the funnel cap off and then pull the engine out.
Mr. Awiszus: Yeah. One of the things you’re seeing now is turbine removals that are happening. They really don’t have to happen. One of the things that we have is we have a horizontal split case in our gas turbines it allows the in-situ maintenance. So this way here, if you have foreign object damage or something happens because stuff happens. This is a Navy combatant. You can just open up our casing like an automobile hood and you can modify the parts and within days and save millions of dollars and weeks and months of availability.
Mr. Muradian: Talk to us a little bit about the spiral plan you guys have, and also retrofit plans. Everybody wants to get the benefits of some of the technology that you guys are rolling out. What’s your sort of LM2500 growth road map, if you can walk us through it? Whether in, so the immediate term and the long term, right? Because the great thing about having such a great installed base is that it supports your great installed base. On the other hand, at some point, you also want to be adapting that power plant to be able to address future needs.
Mr. Awiszus: Good point. First continuing on the power density aspect of things. We’re introducing our light-weight composite module which will be on the DDG 128 this year, in the Littoral Combat Ship 32 with Austal. That light weight composite module saved 5500 pounds. They need the weight reduction. So again, the theme of more power with the best class power density.
The other thing that we’re doing is the LM2500+G4. It’s now rated at 30.4 megawatts for the U.S. Navy. That has not been used in the U.S. Navy. It’s been proven in 27 other ships around the world with the Italian FREMM, the French FREMM, and the Italian Light Frigate. So we’ve got U.S. Navy rating approval. Now the 30.3 megawatts, so that would be a new engine coming on board, fully shock qualified with a plan for the U.S. Navy for the Future Frigate and the Large Surface Combatant as well. So we’re real pleased with that.
Mr. Muradian: And talk to us about electric start. Anybody who knows anything about gas turbines knew that you had to use compressed air and you’d start your K501 and you’d use K501 blades to start, not that I would be familiar with procedures at all, but you’d start your mains. Talk to us about electric start and how that’s kind of game-changing for the business.
Mr. Awiszus: Interesting. You know your stuff. Primarily, we got that from our industrial group. Our industrial group started using an electric start for the gear box to start the gas turbines, and we transferred that over into the naval marine space.
Primarily, if you look at it versus hydraulic systems, you save 6500 pounds. Again, it’s weight. And then also to kind of move into the next subject, it’s very appropriate for electric drive ships, right? If you have electric drive ships you can be starting the ships on batteries and things of that nature. Why have compressed air? Why have hydraulics?
So with electric starters, we’re getting a lot of interest on it. Not only for the weight reduction but also for the coming of electric ships.
Mr. Muradian: You mentioned the industrial power group. Obviously folks also most of the time around the world when they think of General Electric if they’re not thinking about household appliances they’re thinking about your commercial aviation business which is extraordinary. You guys are a manufacturer of some of the world’s most powerful but also the most efficient engines. And in the commercial aviation space, everything is about not just the power density, but also the efficiency of it.
Mr. Awiszus: Yeah.
Mr. Muradian: Talk to us a little bit about the cross-pollination and how you get some ideas from across this power generation and you know even aviation propulsion universe that you guys live in, where you guys are exchanging ideas and trying to continue to refine the product.
Mr. Awiszus: That’s interesting, because one of the things is that GE is obviously known for its commercial and military airspace with over 60,000 installed military and commercial engines. Those commercial or aircraft engines went into the aero derivatives. Those aero derivatives, we use them in naval, we use them in industrial, and we use them in power convergence. But all of those are made by GE Aviation. Even though they’re for power, oil and gas, or marine.
So we have this large install base and our aviation engineers, our aviation manufacturing, we bring all the good technology that we do from the industrial group, oil and gas, into the LM2500 products. So we always are enhancing it for performance or reliability. We’re lucky with that enterprise.
Mr. Muradian: Let me ask you one question about the MT30. That’s the Rolls Royce product. A very powerful engine, very big engine. You said it’s on the Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship. Do you guys see an opportunity there on the Lockheed Frigate variant as well? Which would effectively put you as the baseline power plant across the entire frigate universe?
Mr. Awiszus: The way I see the Future Frigate is that there’s five people who have been awarded concept designs, okay? And as you mentioned, our gas turbine engine are on four of the reference ships. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re working with all five shipyards. The key thing is you have to have solutions and that’s why you see the things that we’re doing with technology, power density, it’s solutions. So we want to earn the trust of all five and we think that we have a good chance. Our solution is the right size for Lockheed Martin as well as the other four.
Mr. Muradian: George Awiszus of General Electric. Sir, thanks very, very much. I hope you have a very successful Surface Navy.
Mr. Awiszus: Surface Navy is fantastic. Thank you.
Mr. Muradian: By the way, congratulations on the spectacular victory of the Boston Red Sox. I can be a New York Yankee fan and still acknowledge just an extraordinary season when well played and well earned.
Mr. Awiszus: It was. It was a good team and we in Boston have to learn to be humble. So thank you. Like you Yankees fans.
Mr. Muradian: I don’t think humility is something Yankees fans have, but that’s fantastic.
George, thanks very much.
Mr. Awiszus: Thanks. Take care.