The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that all Type 45 Destroyers will have recieved upgrades to their power systems by the mid-2020s.
In 2016 it was revealed that due to a design flaw on the Northrop Grumman intercooler attached to the ships Rolls-Royce WR-21 gas turbines, power availability was diminished considerably when functioning in the warm climate of the Persian Gulf; and it quickly became apparent that the class was not operating as originally envisioned with some losing power mid-deployment.
Therefore a planned refit was scheduled from 2019–21 to fully resolve the problems with the six ships in the class.
Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, stated:
“HMS DAUNTLESS, the first of class to undergo the Type 45 Power Improvement Programme (PIP), is expected to complete the initial phase of the installation by Q3 2021. This follows reassessment of the programme to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on progress. The next phase of the programme will see DAUNTLESS undertake a rigorous trials programme in harbour and subsequently at sea.
The programme is dependent on the availability of ships to undertake the upgrade, balanced against the Royal Navy’s standing and future operational commitments. It is still the case that all six Type 45 ships are expected to have received their PIP upgrade by the mid-2020s.”
What’s the issue?
According to NavyLookout here, the vessels WR-21 gas turbine itself is of a sound design, however, the intercooler unit “has a major design flaw and causes the WR-21s to fail occasionally. When this happens, the electrical load on the diesel generators can become too great and they ‘trip out’, leaving the ship with no source of power or propulsion.”
The First Sea Lord, Admiral Philip Jones, clarified in evidence to the Defence Committee that the “WR-21 gas turbines were designed in extreme hot weather conditions to what we call ‘gracefully degrade’ in their performance, until you get to the point where it goes beyond the temperature at which they would operate… we found that the resilience of the diesel generators and the WR-21 in the ship at the moment was not degrading gracefully; it was degrading catastrophically, so that is what we have had to address”.
The Ministry of Defence is funding the Type 45 Power Improvement Programme. The current contract value is approximately £189 million.