Cabling solutions manufacturer and developer Brand-Rex and Carillion IT Services (formerly Alfred McAlpine - IT Services), announce that they have been selected to provide the fibre communications infrastructure network for two new aircraft carriers commissioned by the MOD. This prestigious contract is part of a multi-billion pound programme that will see a new class of aircraft carrier to be operated by the Royal Navy and a step change in the UK’s Carrier Strike capability. The fibre network will provide the basis for all IP based requirements on the two ships, creating a flexible and robust primary communications system capable of delivering the needs of these sophisticated new vessels.
Brand-Rex was selected by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) from a short list of five manufacturers. The company will be using its market leading Air Blown Fibre system, Blolite+, a unique installation solution that offers flexible and cost effective deployment with an ability to easily support future network expansion requirements. Brand-Rex has chosen to work with long standing partner Carillion IT Services (formerly Alfred McAlpine - IT Services), who will provide project management and installation services.
The two new vessels will each be built in five sectional modules which will see specialised, recently developed 3mm Blolite+ Microduct installed to carry the fibre. The Blolite+ system uses a compressed air installation method and is capable of blowing single coated fibres up to 300 metres through the tortuous route of bends and twists that you might expect with the aircraft carriers. The fibre units are only blown into the ducts as they are needed, allowing the Blolite+ system to develop as network needs expand. The use of this system has removed the need to use a traditional “dark fibre” philosophy to address future proofing, and also enables a more efficient Shipbuild plan as the Microduct can be installed on individual modules; This ‘pay as you grow’ approach represents excellent operational value for the MoD, and illustrates some of the many benefits of blown fibre networks.
Noel McNulty, Managing Director of Carillion IT Services said that, “An 18 month design phase, aimed at de-risking the project, would commence almost immediately.” Highlighting the strength of the partnership with Brand-Rex, McNulty added, “The combination of our vast experience with this technology, having been a Brand-Rex partner for over 15 years, and proven ability in the defence sector will benefit us to meet the challenges of this strategic project - the biggest British military ships ever built.”
Blown fibre was selected at an early stage by ACA as it was the only technology capable of meeting its exacting demands. Frank Ward, regional sales manager of Brand-Rex, said that this marine, hi-tech environment was inherently ‘noisy’ and that signal integrity could not be maintained with copper cabling. Additionally, the signals carried in fibre are very secure, a key requirement within any MOD communication system.
The Blolite+ system provides substantial flexibility and significant ‘future-proofing’, allowing newer technology fibres to be blown in without the normal upheaval that installation of new cabling would bring. Additionally Brand-Rex will provide training for Royal Navy personnel to have the capability to blow fibre in an operational theatre, allowing new fibre to be added to the network and damage control to take place without the reliance on a third party back at dock.
Paul Lines, CEO of Brand Rex said that he was “delighted with the award of this contract and beyond the obvious kudos it would serve as an excellent illustration of the many benefits blown fibre offers for new network installations across all industry sectors”. He added, “These vessels are built with an expected 50 year operational life span and the network has to be able to anticipate future needs and support new innovations as they come on stream. The Blolite+ solution will achieve this.”
The ACA selection process was, according to Noel McNulty, “Targeted directly at fibre manufacturers as opposed to integrators.” Frank Ward added, “Brand-Rex went to considerable lengths to prove that we could meet ACA’s requirements if they selected the innovative Blolite+ solution.” Adding that, “this was made all the more challenging as the ACA needed to achieve a high level of confidence as the large scale deployment of this technology supporting the majority of ship wide networks is novel in a UK Warship”. Part of the Brand-Rex response was to build a demonstration system that replicated the range of bends and arduous routes; ACA witnessed the fibre being blown and Brand-Rex was able to prove that it was fit for purpose. The appointment of Brand-Rex’s trusted partner Carillion IT Services enhances the years of close co-operation the two organisations have had.
The contract was signed by Paul Lines, CEO of Brand-Rex and Rear Admiral Bob Love, the CVF Integrated Project Team Leader, at ACA headquarters in Farnborough.
It was as a result of Britain's Strategic Defence review (SDR) in 1998 that plans were announced to replace the current set of three Invincible Class 22,000t escort carriers with two larger, more capable Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) ships that could operate a more powerful force and will operate as a joint-service platform, for all three services (Navy, RAF, and Army) in a variety of roles.
Concluding, Frank Ward said, “The Royal Navy required a secure and future proof network technology and that is what Blolite+ delivers.”
Brand-Rex Ltd is a global operation, designing, developing and manufacturing the most sophisticated, high performance copper and fibre cabling systems for communications and extreme environment applications. Headquartered in Scotland, the company is committed to being a trusted market leading provider of best-in-class communication infrastructure solutions that are truly ‘future proof’.
For more information visit www.brand-rex.com
For further press information please contact:
Debby Freeman on: 070 7470 7063
Phil Turtle on: 070 7470 7080
Turtle Consulting Group
NOTES TO EDITOR:
Carillion IT Services (part of Carillion plc) is an outsourcing, managed service and network infrastructure solution provider for a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors.
Carillion plc is one of the UK’s leading support services, construction and Public Private Partnership project companies. The Group has annual revenue of around £5bn, employs over 50,000 people and operates across the UK, in the Middle East, Canada and the Caribbean.
For further information about Carillion IT Services: www.carillionplc.com/itservices
For further information about the Carillion group: www.carillionplc.com
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