New On Board Helicopter Fueling System by DESMI

Image courtesy of DESMI
Image courtesy of DESMI

Published Jul 16, 2021 8:44 AM by The Maritime Executive


Navies and coast guards of the world now have the possibility to get a ship-based helicopter fueling  system with several advantages that not only make it better, but cheaper, too.  

These advantages include a new, modular design for lower overall cost and faster maintenance,  lighter weight, an improved user interface that makes it easier to operate, and an integrated logistics  system. All of this is in a proven design at NATO STANAG standards. This includes options for both  on-deck or Helicopter In-Flight Refueling (HIFR).  

“This will be a wonderful benefit to the navies and coast guards of the world, both technically and  commercially. Taxpayers will truly get value for their dollar,” says Christian Wollerup, Segment  Director for Defence and Fuel Products at DESMI.  

Modular design 

As a market leader in helicopter refueling systems, DESMI has previously customized each unit for  every customer, depending on their needs. While that option is still available, it comes at a cost. So  DESMI has introduced a system built in modules – where customers can choose among the different  pieces that fit together – “a bit like Lego bricks” – into a whole unit, according to Christian.  

The modules’ combinable pieces include pump units, filter units, control systems and dispenser  units. Each module has up to several different options – with 21 modules in all.  

For example, the customer chooses the type and number of pumps in the pump unit, the number of  filters needed, the type of control system, and so on. The modularlisation means DESMI can use  standardised products in each module, bringing the cost down.  

Thus, customers in India, Singapore, USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy or Spain can build a  complete, modular system with the standard components for their own navy’s or coast guard’s  specific needs.  

In addition, the new design allows easy access to all components in the finished design for easy  maintenance. “There’s basically not one component that you can’t replace within 15 to 30 minutes,”  Christian says. “In other systems, it can take considerably longer. So basically, we’re reducing  downtime during maintenance considerably.” 

Lighter and safer 

DESMI offers the new system in three different sizes: 230 litres per minute (l/m), 480 l/m and 680  l/m. 
Each system comes with an optimized bottom plate in order to save weight and increase strength. Thus, ship designers will save 20% on weight of the helicopter fuel system with the new DESMI  products – a benefit for warships that need to cut down on weight whenever possible.  

In addition to the lighter base plate, DESMI has introduced vane pumps to the design. Fuel enters  through a prefilter to the pump, then it passes through a safety valve and then a filter water  separator. This filter, along with a brand new water barrier technology on the dispenser unit, serves  the important purpose to make the fuel clean and dry. It separates water droplets down to 5 ppm,  and it also removes solid contaminants. As of this writing, the water barrier technology is still in final  testing. Once it is approved, DESMI will retrofit the new water barrier technology into new modular  systems by just changing a pipe and the filter, thereby helping customers to achieve even safer  operations in austere conditions.  

As with previous DESMI refueling systems, the new system is also optimised for HIFR operations – for  refueling during extreme waves or weather, when it is too difficult for the helicopter to land safely  on board. Also as previously, the system has been “designed from the tank all the way up to the  helicopter,” ensuring safe and dry fuel in any operation scenario. 

Integrated logistics system 

Naval and coast guard ships must have maximum operation time in their area, any day, every year,  as long as they operate. DESMI has designed its logistics system with that in mind. The Integrated  Logistics System (ILS) is a digital database with a maintenance manual, pictures, spare parts  numbers, troubleshooting schematics and more in one package. It is made for the naval helicopter  refueling operators and maintainers. In addition, technical and animated videos show in detail how  the system works. The ILS is both in digital format and hard copy, in an easy to use format to  minimise downtime and maximise operational capability.  

Improved user interface 

The user interface makes the DESMI refueling system easy to operate for both the helicopter landing  officer and helicopter landing assistants on the flight deck during HIFR. 

“For the maintenance personnel, it makes me extremely happy that we have a system which is easy  to operate and easy to maintain, should there be a fault. Easy troubleshooting,” says Christian  Wollerup. 

Naval standards 

The system is built by marine engineers for marine engineers. It complies with naval classification  standards such as LR, DNV-GL as well as other classification societies upon request. The system also  complies with NATO STANAG standards – not commercial standards. While a commercial system  provider can supply a helicopter refueling unit for an oil rig in Southeast Asia or the North Sea, for  example, naval and coast guard surface ships have different standards. DESMI’s maritime refueling  systems comply with such standards. They are designed to cope with “outside events”. In other  words, DESMI can shock-mount the system so that it can sustain hits from torpedoes, missiles or mines and still be able to operate both during, under and after such an event. “That’s quite unique. And that is what makes the difference if the naval customer is requesting a unit to comply with naval  standards,” says Christian. 

The new system will be ready for the market in January 2021. When the COVID-19 travel ban is over,  DESMI will be attending all major exhibitions to present the system.  

Furthermore, DESMI offers classroom training or onboard training for its helicopter refueling  systems. This is typcially done by DESMI’s superintendant engineers, who have many years of  experience with these systems – offering training in both automation and mechanics of the system. 

The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.