Superconductors to be Installed on Navy Vessels.

Author:Lee, Connie

* Two of the Navy's amphibious transport docks are scheduled to receive degaussing systems with superconductors.

A degaussing system is a device used to reduce a ship's magnetic signature. The technology played a large role during World War II, when it was adopted to reduce the threat of German minefields.

Daniel McGahn, chairman, president and CEO of American Superconductor, said his company was awarded sole-source contracts to provide the systems for the Navy's LPD-28 and LPD-30.

McGahn said the company's ship protection system differs from traditional degaussers because it uses a superconductor rather than copper wires. This can reduce the total weight of the ship by 10 to 100 tons, depending on the watercraft, he said. With the Navy's incumbent system, it is difficult to add capability without simultaneously adding weight, he noted.

"We're increasing performance at similar cost, but we're liberating an envelope of weight and volume to be used for other systems," he said. "To a naval architect designing a new ship, those are degrees of freedom that aren't present today."

The company was able to save weight because a superconductor is about 10 to 20 times more energy dense than copper, he noted...

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