The Vertical Launch System (VLS) has been successfully installed in the first Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD). Combat proven with more than 3,500 successful missile firings, the MK 41 VLS module has been deployed by 12 navies, in more than 20 different ship classes in more than 180 ships.
The system is a modular design with the basic foundation being an eight-cell MK 41 VLS module that can be assembled in desired numbers to meet specific mission and hull requirements. It is approximately 6.7 metres long and is installed below deck.
A considerable amount of pre-work was undertaken to ensure installation ran smoothly and due to the sensitivity of the equipment on the VLS modules, a weather-tight staging area was constructed to ensure there was no risk of the equipment getting wet.
The nature of the lift was a first, made possible by using the Manitowoc crane’s two hooks to successfully rotate the equipment from the horizontal to the vertical, and save time during the rotation. Traditionally, this is done using two separate cranes by BIW in the United States.
The installation was a highly precise exercise, with an allowance of only 1mm on one side, and up to 10mm on other sides. Expert guidance was provided by a Test Director who travelled from the United States to verify the installation checkpoints.
The success of the operation was evident when the first two modules were installed on the first day and the remaining four modules on the second day, when the schedule had allowed for the installation of one module per day.
The thoroughness of preparation, organisation and team work allowed this significant time saving and further, through lessons learned in the installation to ship 01, the rigging team believe that it may be possible to load out all six modules in just one day for the remaining ships.
Press Release, May 7, 2014; Image: ASC