Damen Naval has contracted RENK for gearboxes and innovative electric propulsion systems for the four new 126 Class (F126) frigates for the German navy. As opposed to the systems delivered to older frigate models, the new combined diesel electric and diesel (CODLAD) propulsion system provides a top speed of more than 26 knots.

In the process, the Augsburg-based propulsion specialist continues its decades-long cooperation with the German Navy. Ships such as the predecessor classes F125 and F124 are also equipped with RENK gearboxes. RENK previously worked with Damen Naval on the construction of frigates and offshore patrol vessels for the navies of the Netherlands, Mexico, Morocco, and Indonesia.

Also read: A closer look at Germany’s true multi-mission F126 frigate of Dutch design

Second generation advanced electric drive

The gearboxes simultaneously connect each diesel engine with its drive shaft. In addition to the gearbox, RENK also supplies its advanced electric drives (AED). These electric propulsion motors drive the propellers either individually or together with the diesel engine. This is the first time the German navy is utilising this propulsion concept.

The CODLAD configuration offers a proven and ideal combination of increased power density, noise reduction through soft-elastic bearings, and flexible couplings as well as low weight and low installation height. RENK has optimised significant aspects of the drive system for naval applications. As a consequence, the design meets the low noise levels specified by the German navy. This makes the new frigates difficult to detect, particularly in the lower speed range covered by the AED.

Also read: German-Dutch naval construction: Setting out a new course together

Value creation in Germany

RENK manufactures the gearbox and drive components for the F126 with a high degree of German added value. As a proven supplier to the navy, RENK has been closely involved in the F126 project since the initial project studies when the vessel was still referred to as the “Multi-Purpose Combat Ship 180 (MKS 180)”.

In June 2020, the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) ultimately awarded the construction contract for the four ships to the Dutch shipbuilder Damen as the general contractor. Damen Naval will deliver the approximately 166-metre-long frigates to the German navy as general contractor together with its sub-contractors Blohm + Voss and Thales.

The ships will be constructed entirely in Germany at shipyards in Wolgast, Kiel and Hamburg. The first ship will be handed over in Hamburg in 2028. The contract includes an option for two further frigates, which Germany is now poised to make use of.

Also read: Germany seeks to extend F126 frigate order with Damen Shipyards