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Prysmian Group has shipped cables for U.S. aircraft carrier

The Prysmian Group reports that the company has supplied a range of cables for the new U.S. aircraft carrier, the  Gerald R. Ford, in a series of deals collectively worth more than US$10 million.

A press release said that the company provided medium voltage (15 KV) and optical fiber cable for a range of purposes. The project required Prysmian to enter a series of contracts for the different applications, which include General Atomics, the designer and manufacturer of the Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS system), and Huntington Ingalls Industries, the shipyard that will install most of the cables. The contract is worth in excess of $10 million.

The use of 15 KV cable represents a first for a ship of this class, the release said. "The U.S. Navy had never previously used voltages of more than 5 KV," said Kevin P. Hamilton, Defense, Specialties & OEM Manager for the Prysmian Group in North America. "This cable is a vital part of the new electrical system that has three times the capacity of other aircraft carriers. Without developing this cable, the increase in electrical capacity would not have been possible."

The release said that the additional electrical capability was needed to support the EMALS system as well as other advanced technology. It noted that previously, steam-powered catapults was used to help planes take-off from the  deck, but that the new EMAL system uses linear induction motors to more finely control aircraft acceleration off the deck. The Prysmian Group developed the cables used to  power the system and has supplied more than 85% of the cables used in conjunction with this system, it said.

The Prysmian Group also supplied hundreds of kilometers of fiber optic cables made to a military specification known as MIL-PRF-85045, the release said.  These cables, it noted, are fully water-blocked to prevent water from migrating through the cable into other parts of the vessel. "These fibre optic products – Kevin Hamilton underlines – use radiation-hardened optical fibre and have cross-linked polyolefin jackets for increased durability."

Per the release, the new aircraft carrier is over 1092 ft (333 m) long, accommodates 4,660 people and has an airport, maintenance facility and hangar storage for more than 75 aircraft. The ship is scheduled to be water-tight in 2013, after which it will be christened and the dry dock flooded. It will then be towed to a different dock at Newport News Shipbuilding where construction will continue until 2015.

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