The Office of Naval Research recently announced that USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) will be equipped with four Rolls-Royce Axial-Flow Waterjet Mk-1 engines, which they claim will both improve performance and reduce required maintenance over the life of the ship.
According to ONR the new Axial-Flow Waterjet Mk-1 can move nearly half a million gallons of seawater per minute and will propel the LCS to speeds greater than 40 knots.
Researchers believe the smaller, more efficient waterjets will help the LCS avoid excessive maintenance costs associated with cavitation — a phenomenon that occurs when changes in pressure create air bubbles on rotating machinery, such as marine propellers. Repeated occurrences can cause whole chunks of metal to wear away, leading to frequent repairs and replacements. The waterjets’ new design could increase their lifespan between repairs.
Full-scale trials for the waterjets are expected to occur on Milwaukee in the next 24 months.