The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that all Type 45 Destroyers will have received 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.”

Putting the Type 45 propulsion problems in perspective

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.

 

 

 

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farouk
farouk
2 months ago

I for the life in me, cannot understand how a top of the line class of ships, not only suffered such a fault, but that it will take so long (Almost twice as long as WW2) in which to resolve it. But good to see an end date in sight On that note, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that when the ships were designed they left out the sound damping for the engines as some wonk at the MOD decided that the threat from subs was no longer an issue. So presuming what I read was correct, has that act of… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago
Reply to  farouk

It does seem to have dragged on doesn’t it. That’s a lot of money too, someone should be on the naughty step for this. Doubt it though.

George Parker
George Parker
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

The list of procurement cock ups is a long one. The MoD system needs to be overhauled and some attitudes seriously adjusted.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  farouk

Hi farouk, I have had a quick dig around on the interweb. The noise issue was first highlighted by the Telegraph I think. However, there was no mention about the speed at which the noise was associated. At 30 knots any ship or sub is noisy and given the T45 isn’t a ASW platform I would expect it to be noisier than a T23 or T26. However, at 8 knots I would hope it could at least be ‘reasonably’ quiet. Apparently the original article claimed that the Russian subs could ‘hear’ the T45 100 miles away. Not sure about that… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
2 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR, problem with the T45’s is they have always been noisy units, across the speed range when compared to their predecessors (T42). This was discovered during first of class noise trials and has followed them round ever since? I’m not sure what remedial work has gone into improving this, given that they have all had refit/docking periods. Suffice to say they are quieter now then they were, but still not great. We always used to detect them before any of the other warships, bar on occasion the RFAs, so never a good thing. You may be surprised to know… Read more »

TR
TR
2 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Gee they must be really loud! Not heard a T45 yet but had a T42 sail past me once – it was making a huge racket, literally like an airliner on take off. T23s on the other hand are spookily quiet.

Deep32
Deep32
2 months ago
Reply to  TR

That’s what T23’s were designed for, especially in EM drive!!!!!!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  farouk

Hi farouk,

I meant to say that I was un-aware of any efforts to reduce the T45 acoustic signature and a quick search did not bring anything up online either.

I guess that with only 6 in service the RN expects them to spend most of their time escorting one of the carriers.

Cheers CR

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

I wonder if the updates of the Aster/Camm will be synchronised with each T45 as they each come of their PIPs? Or, will this be on a totally different timeframe and at different place?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hi Quentin,

I read somewhere that the CAMM upgrade would be done seperately. According to Navy Lookout the first CAMM upgrade will not come into service until 2026. My understanding is that there is still some design work to be done and the RN does not want to slow the PIP down – understandably.

Cheer CR

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks CR. I’d like to see them synchronise a ASM upgrade on all the T45s at the same time as the CAMM/Asters. Just to offer some extra punch.

George Parker
George Parker
2 months ago

MoD procurements must add penalty clauses to the contracts they issue. Not functioning as advertised is as basic as it gets. Following the current Ajax debacle, it would appear that the entire procurement apparatus needs to be overhauled. As a matter of some urgency.

Pete
Pete
2 months ago
Reply to  George Parker

I know there will be those that will shoot me down but in other industries flaws such as this would result in compensation claims via product liability insurance (bad batch) and/or professional indemnity insurance (design flaws) and the door should also he open to a good old latent defect claim given the defect couldn’t realistically have been identified until it did fail

Often such claims and settlement will be subject to confidentiality (unless it goes to court)

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Pete

If I recall correctly the WR21 power unit was selected for political reasons by the government of the day and went against the recommendations of BAE who recommended the LM2500. As such I don’t think the current government have any recourse against the builder.

That said as stated the issue isn’t with the turbine itself but I think it still holds true that there is no recourse.

AlexS
AlexS
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

WR-21 gamble pays off

Article Abstract:
Northrop Grumman Corp, together with partners Rolls-Royce and DCN, has received a contract from the British government to supply the WR-21 gas turbine, which will be used in the country’s Type 45 destroyer program. The WR-21 gas turbine, which was based on Rolls-Royce’s RB211 and Trent aero-engines, is claimed to be the most efficient marine gas turbine in the world. Northrop Grumman is expected to handle the fabrication(?) of the gas turbine while Rolls-Royce will build(?) the gas turbine.

Publisher: Maritime World Ltd.
Publication Name: Jane’s Navy International
Subject: Military and naval science
ISSN: 0144-3194
Year: 2000

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

“If I recall correctly the WR21 power unit was selected for political reasons by the government of the day and went against the recommendations of BAE who recommended the LM2500. “ A major reason WR21 was selected is due to political considerations certainly, the then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon would have been a brave man not to go for the Rolls Royce derived solution considering his Ashfield Constituency had a Rolls Royce production facility in it and his close political and personal connections with Derbyshire. As for BAE Systems recommending the LM2500 over the WR-21 that actually isn’t true albeit there… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
2 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

All of the above  👍  The issues with the recuperater where addressed probably 4-5 years ago. Some mods to the machinery control software helped to ensure that the lights didn’t go out for the smallest issue. Mods where made to the core and the modded cores where fitted to a number of T45s. I worked for 4 weeks with a T45 alongside in the Gulf at the height of summer. Speaking to mates on it at the time they had no failures or TLFs in the 6 months they where away due to hot weather or other issues.… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Gunbuster
John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago

Could they really not get a good intercooler engineer to redesign it?

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

That’s far too sensible…

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

And far too cheap, must add a few zero’s onto the end of any sensible quote and hand it over to a defence company.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

They have and its working far better

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

Why o why has it taken so long after how many t45s have succumbed to this fault were they all not built to the same specification or were they built like the 22s different batches?

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago

Does anyone know what the situation is with HMS Dauntless, as far as I know the PIP work has been done, has it been trialled yet?.

AlexS
AlexS
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

I think the PIP is done or almost, but now it is necessary to test it to check if it.

The big problem is that Dauntless spent +14 months in it instead of 6 months as was expected.

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 months ago

George, just to clarify, the Royal Navy (RN) have stated during a defence committee questioning, that the engine problem is not with the Honeywell provided intercooler, it is primarily with the Ingersoll Rand Energy Systems provided recuperator. These are two entirely different things when it comes to gas turbine generators. As seen in the above schematic of the WR21. Air enters the 1st stage compressor, it then passes through an intercooler before passing to the high pressure compressor (HPC)/(intermediate section). The compressed higher temperature air is then fed into the inlet of the recuperator. The recuperator takes exhausted air that… Read more »

tomuk
tomuk
2 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

It is my understanding that AIResearch (Honeywell) originally provided both the intercooler and the recuperator but during testing the recuperator was found to be problematical so was swapped for the one from Ingersoll Rand. This was towards the end of testing and not enough further testing was carried out to find there were still problems with the new recuperator.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

That is a very nice explanation.

The issue, that you appear to be hinting at. is that the thermal loop does lead to thermal run away above certain temperature/power conditions.

It is, in a lot of systems, possible to bleed in colder air to prevent thermal run away. Granted it is not thermally efficient…..

There is also the preconditioning of the fuel to consider so that it’s viscosity -> droplet size -> burn characteristics are regularised.

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 months ago

Yes, but not everyone understands thermal runaway. I am sure GB knows the real reason for the failure, but is probably bound by a NDC. Today, we are lucky in that these engines are pretty much multi-fuel. The combination of a fuel density sensor and a digital ECU amongst other sensors means the engine can easily be tailored to burn various octanes of fuel without changing a load of components. Gone are the days when you had to pump in 1L of octane booster” for every 50L when visiting a foreign country who used a different grade of fuel. In… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
2 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The recouperator core that is the issue isnt really that big either . I was surprised how small it was when I saw it. It took I think 2 weeks to dismantle the engine room to get to it, a few days to exchange the troublesome core and another 2 weeks to put everything back together. The core does contain some exotic alloys due to the high temps that it is subjected to. As DaveyB explains there is a lot of interactions in the whole engine system and these also get tied into the ship wide integrated electrical power (IEP)… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thnx for the update.

As ever the anecdotes are priceless.

You do so much better than the RN press office at giving a real & grounded perspective on things….

Wolf
Wolf
2 months ago

Good news

DeeDubya
DeeDubya
2 months ago

Having worked in the MOD for many years the waste and screw-ups seem both inevitable and unavoidable. I console myself by imagining that every extra pound spent equates to someone staying in employment

DP
DP
2 months ago

Sorry about the war-and-peace but, the more I read about issues affecting a whole plethora of MOD equipment the more I wonder whether expanding the escort fleet to 24 (with the T32 class) was a wise move? How I’d love to see a fleet of 24 well-defined, cutting-edge, well supported and well maintained escorts but should the extra money not have been spent resolving issues with the current fleet that need properly sorting …. a lack of missile defence for the QE class (I understand that’s what the T45s are there for but, loose one of your two that are… Read more »

David
David
2 months ago

Nice to see Shamen being fitted too. Recent picture of Daring shows the tell-take box on the main mast.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Look at the hull around the 1 deck level on T45 . If there are rectangular boxes there as well then its the son of OUTBOARD .

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Leydene building at Collingwood is the home of that area, and the Shaman training.

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
2 months ago

Why are the MOD spending £189m to fund this upgrade – repair? Sound to me like the ships have never met the design specification. Therefore the liability and costs for repair should be with the designers/shipyard that produced these tin cans.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

That would happen in any other industry except the MOD it appears.

I have no idea if such pieces of equipment are supplied with a warranty as such but even if they did get one im sure that would have expired by now leaving zero liability with the designers and builders.

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
2 months ago
Reply to  James

I would expect the Defence Select Committee to be asking questions as to why this is happening.

AlexS
AlexS
2 months ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

The problem is that there are not much competitors in defence space. So who can dictate the contract is the industry not the MoD

I mean, are you willing to go to Italian, German or French warships for RN to punish mistakes of your own industry know that maybe there will be the risk of no industry at all ?

Last edited 2 months ago by AlexS
Ade Palmer
Ade Palmer
2 months ago

I before E except after C
What sort of comic is this?

Rob N
Rob N
2 months ago

Why cant they fit the Sea Ceptor while they are doingPIP. This would speed up the capability upgrade.

Derek
Derek
2 months ago

£189,000,000? When the US announce a contract they detail the cost as (e.g.) $188,258,375 all in price. Ours are always contracts rounded in millions (or billions). Anyone seen Richard Pryor in SUPERMAN III?