STS Defence supplied and supports the multi-function configurable communications masts used on the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Daring Class air-defence destroyer, and is now leading the development and integration of the next generation of modern communications masts for the Type 26, City Class frigates.

The challenge

As design authority, we were challenged with integrating a new antenna within an existing section of the operational communications mast. This would increase the overall mass, but the original natural frequency of the platform would need to be maintained.

The solution

A comprehensive design solution was produced, detailing general arrangements and manufacturing drawings of the mast, including antenna arrangements and cable management. We then undertook the full mechanical and electrical manufacture and assembly of the new mast section before integrating it onto the platform, including undertaking performance testing.

The results

The new antenna has been accepted into service, and this was then followed by us being selected to provide the design solution for the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 City Class frigates. The scoping, risk-reduction and detailed design study covered port and starboard side communication masts, each carrying different antenna solutions.

Designing a solution for the Type 26

In 2017, STS Defence were subsequently awarded a contract to provide two configurable communication masts for each of the first batch of Type 26 frigates. The masts will support a range of antennas providing line of sight communications across a range of frequency bands.

The design is a modular and scalable, configurable integrated communications mast solution fully delivering customer communication requirements.  It provides optimum and increased cross section RF decoupling between all antennas, using proven pioneering isolation screen technology, which enhances multiple RF antenna performance across a relatively small ships superstructure footprint.

A ground breaking and innovative integrated MHSL optics solution is also included, consisting of fibre-optics and multiple lenses system whilst providing unobstructed 235°arc, superb candlepower luminance and 100% operational reliability, which is fully endorsed by Lloyds Register and the Maritime Coastguard agency under ‘The merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996”.

The masts are lightweight, strong, robust and reliable, providing a low-cost, low-maintenance through life support design solution:

  • Fully encapsulated internal cabling
  • Physical cable separation to ensure tempest clearance
  • Fully integrated compliant lightening conductor system that meets DefStan 02-516 requirements