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Sale of Rugby Electric Motor plant by US based GE

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Old 26th April 2019, 12:42
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Sale of Rugby Electric Motor plant by US based GE

Closure of GE Rugby electric motor plant now threatens the future supply of RN propulsion systems - as last year the US giant announced it plans to close its UK Power Conversion plant in Rugby in 2019.

This plant currently designs and manufactures most of the RNs power systems (QEC, T45) as well as those for some of the newer USN ships (e.g Zumwalt class), It is also designing and manufacturing the new 'stealthy' poweplants for the new Type 26 and 31 Frigates - so this closure will also impact on UK foreign sales worth billions (Canada and Australia at the moment - likely more to come) as these ships also share the same powerplants as the RN ships.

GE have stated that they plan to move operations from the UK to France by the end of 2019 - to a factory with little / no experience (or the facilities) to conduct this type of defence manufacturing.

Essentially much of the work at the Rugby factory is of a 'nationally sensitive' nature, and should not be moved overseas, this will threaten not just UK manufacturing jobs and high end UK skills, but also our national security - and could potentially leave the T26 with an inferior (and foreign) propulsion system.

The now struggling US giant, GE bought the owners of RMR, Converteam in 2011. Not surprisingly - they now want to restructure (this smacks of the Cadburys/Kraft take over and subsequent factory closures).

Some capability 'tech' details from 'Save the Royal' Navy Website:

"The Power Conversion site in Rugby has been manufacturing electrical components for the RN since the First World War. (Sometimes referred to as the Rotating Machines, Rugby (RMR) Factory). The site has unique manufacturing capabilities needed to produced quiet and shock-resistant electric motors for naval applications. In the recent past they manufactured the Advanced Induction Motors (AIM) for the Type 45 destroyers and the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. They have also made the very high specification ultra-quiet motors needed for submarine hunting for the first three Type 26 Frigates. Around 90% of the current Naval Service fleet have GE-made electrical equipment on board.
RMR has the largest air vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI) tank in the world. This tank is used to seal the insulation in high-voltage motors and generators. The VPI process prevents leaks and corrosion while improving heat dissipation making for efficient, reliable long-life motors. Also on the site is a 250-tonne gantry crane and many other facilities that cannot simply be popped on the back of a lorry and moved to France. The factory has been built up over decades with considerable investment in large, complex and highly engineered plant that would cost £millions to relocate or replicate elsewhere. Of course, more valuable even than the plant is the existing workforce of dedicated people with decades of accumulated specialist experience in naval electrical component manufacture."

Link to the full Save the Royal Navy article here, the article also has an interesting video excerpt of the House of Commons Defence Committee taking evidence on the proposed closure from Union Reps on 23 April.

We need some government action here to stop GE destroying what little defence manufacturing we have left in our country - once its gone, we will never get it back!
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
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