The client

BAE Systems is one of the world’s largest defence contractors. Based in London, the international organisation works in defence, security and aerospace. A FTSE 100 company, BAE Systems is known for creating robust defence systems using cutting-edge technology.

BAE System’s Maritime division designs and manufactures naval ships and submarines, as well as their state of the art combat systems and equipment. BAE Systems offer an array of associated services, including training solutions, maintenance and modernisation programmes to support ships and equipment in service around the world and the management of supporting infrastructure.

It has worked closely with the UK Government to design and develop the Type 26 City Class frigates for the Royal Navy.

The brief

MARL was tasked with the design, qualification, manufacture and supply of a complete suite of internal and external lighting systems and associated control systems for the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates.

These systems need to provide a complex collection of functions and features including multispectral lighting, NVG compatible lighting, dark adaptive lighting to preserve crew’s night vision, emergency lighting that remains active with a loss of power and dimmable lights for use in numerous applications. Lighting applications are required to be tuned to the area of the ship they are used in such as warm white for crew compartments, cool white for medical applications.

We were required to work within the confines of exacting defence standards, security classifications and a detailed specific user requirement given the multi-mission nature of the ship.

The project

MARL were determined to reduce the whole life cost of running the lighting system for the Royal Navy. This included not only the price of acquisition, but also increasing the life of the components, increasing service intervals, reducing the number of spares required and ensuring the system could be maintained by the crew. We developed a core of five versatile full-spectrum lighting products and twenty corresponding fixtures. Robust and durable, our Type 26 LED panels have a CRI capacity of greater than 90% and a colour temperature of up to 4,000 kelvin.

Working very closely with the team at BAE Systems, taking a collaborative approach to the systems development and facilitating many visits to our design and manufacturing centre, this open approach made for a rapid development process and allowed our client to view the work's progress up close and provide vital feedback from a crew and maintainers point of view.

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The innovation

The lighting panels' unique modular design makes them highly innovative. Lightweight and space efficient panels house modules which have a long life and that can be quickly replaced on an as needed basis.

The LED lighting runs at ultra-low power and provides a 50% energy saving compared with conventional frigate lighting systems. Modules such as the emergency backup battery, the power supply or the LED board may be replaced on a periodic basis or preferably in a condition-based manner depending on use and service need.

The light and control systems have been subject to rigorous qualification testing including environmental, vibration and shock. Having successfully completed all tests, the Type 26 lighting systems provided by MARL may be used in a number of Naval applications and across the wider Royal Navy fleet.

The result

The collaboration with BAE Systems resulted in a highly efficient lighting system with low running costs, user specific performance characteristics and intuitive controls. All modules of the lighting and control systems are NATO codified products and are available for use not just in Type 26 but across the NATO user group.

In total, more than 2500 lighting fixtures, 300000 LEDs, and more than 1 million components are used in lighting each ship.

We look forward to further collaboration with BAE Systems in the near future.

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