HMS Dragon is eyeing a return to the fleet in 2024 as work to install new engines reaches a notable milestone, say the Royal Navy here.

The Type 45 destroyer has been undergoing major upgrades in Portsmouth since March 2022 and, nearly two years on, one of Dragon’s new engines has been started for the first time as part of critical trials. 

The ship is the latest of her class – after HMS Dauntless and HMS Daring – to go through the Power Improvement Project (PIP), which addresses the resilience of the engines and power generation driving the many hi-tech sensors, systems and weapons on board.

“To make the necessary upgrades, the two original diesel engines were removed and replaced with three more reliable, more powerful, cleaner generators.
Ultimately, the ship will be more powerful – 4,000hp to be precise – reliable, greener and ready to embark future weapons. Before returning to sea, Dragon is undergoing trials afloat in a non-tidal basin in Portsmouth which test each of three engine installations is correct, integrated effectively into the workings of the ship, can be controlled remotely and, eventually, that they can all work together to power and propel the ship.”

HMS Dragon heading back to the fleet

Dragon’s Senior Naval Officer, Lieutenant Commander Fiona Stephenson, was quoted as saying:

“The inaugural roar of Dragon’s new engines marked the beginning of the next chapter in our return to the fleet. I am proud of the hard work of our marine engineering team and industry partners and look forward to delivering as one team as we breathe fire into Dragon.”

Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander James Baddeley added:

“It is really exciting to see the PIP installation coming to life to increase the capability of the platform, the successful first start is testament to all the hard work which has gone into the design and installation onboard.”

HMS Dragon is the first of the Type 45s to undergo PIP in Portsmouth, with HMS Dauntless and HMS Daring’s work taking place at Cammell Laird.

“HMS Dauntless returned to the Fleet at the beginning of last year, deploying to the Caribbean to support British Overseas Territories during hurricane season and counter drugs trafficking in the region. Her successful actions on that deployment underscored the success of the major engine upgrades. PIP is being delivered under a major design and manufacture contract between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, and delivered in collaboration with BMT Defence services and Cammell Laird.”

You can read more from the Royal Navy here.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Airborne
Airborne (@guest_791070)
4 months ago

Are these to get NSM as well or are the 11 sets for the T23s and the up and coming T31s? NSM seems a reasonable choice, with a quick turnover for the right price.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791080)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Yup

One of the T45’s is having NSM fitted as we speak.

Quick upgrade – in relative terms.

First of class firing trials will be involved as always.

Airborne
Airborne (@guest_791100)
4 months ago

Good news, more sets required methinks!

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_791159)
4 months ago

Would NSM mod be completed for Daring and Dragon, before returning to the fleet later this year? Additionally, wonder whether Defender PIP & CAMM mods could be expedited? Once Daring and Dragon return to fleet, Duncan and Diamond inducted into same refit program, one at Portsmouth, the other at CL? 🤔

Uncle Sugar could have a serious near-term and continuing requirement for the T-45s in the ME theater, and potentially, SCS. 🤔

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791188)
4 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

NSM -bolting racks on and fitting cabling / fire suppression is no big deal.

In fact I can’t really see the physical fitting as any kind of deal.

The issue is clearances and first of class trials.

Has Somerset test fired yet? That will be the CMS test with an inert warhead for the first shot. So I suspect that has happened.

I suspect in the current exercise she will do a live shot.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791190)
4 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

With CAMM It depends what is fastest to do Mk41 or independent tubes.

I think RN is moving towards, for sensible reasons, a mix of tubes. Some quad packed for numbers and a few independent.

The reason for the Independant tubes is recycle rate and not needing a totally clear deck in a save-the-ship-emergency. Reloading is easier. They can be fired at the same instant as ASTER or NSM. So there isn’t a defenceless window when a heavy missile is being fired caused by efflux etc. which is a bit of a single silo approach problem.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_791201)
4 months ago

Hmmm…if an accurate assessment of the future program, understand that schedule compression would be a remote possibility. 🤔☹️

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_791316)
4 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

We really could of done with more of these T45 ,bet the government wish like wise at the moment 😕

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_793016)
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Yes, the Navy had a clear requirement for 12.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_791312)
4 months ago

That’s good news for a change ,we sadly lack good news at times 🤔 🇬🇧

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_791085)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Hi Airborne.. Think the 11 sets are for use with the type 45’s and the T23s. I could be wrong though.

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_791088)
4 months ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Oops.. ‘Supportive Bloke’ beat me to it. Interesting to know that detail about the NSM already being fitted to a Type 45. Some positive news!

Airborne
Airborne (@guest_791101)
4 months ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Got it John, cheers.

Kyle Green
Kyle Green (@guest_791246)
4 months ago
Reply to  John Stevens

11 sets of NSM seem to be more than enough when considering we only have 7 available Frigates and 2-3 available destroyers at the moment. (Recently published that of 11 Frigates 4 are inactive with two planned to be scrapped due to lack of crew.)

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_791140)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Like to see if they can put either 4*4 `NSMs of even 2*6 ‘NSMs for a bit more punch. But 2*4 is better than nothing.

Airborne
Airborne (@guest_791629)
4 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Some is better than nil mate 👍

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_791141)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

And to get a few more than the 11 sets.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_791144)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

I would hope Dragon and Daring return to the Fleet with the NSM preparation works already completed but a Lottery win might be more likely 😚

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_791211)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Reading an article on another site about Navy land attack capabilities now and in the future (as this missile has some land attack capability), it seemed to suggest only some will get them by stating something like ‘..hasn’t been revealed which of the T-45s will get them’. Like to think all will get them esp as T-23s are dropping like flies, but we will see.

Airborne
Airborne (@guest_791631)
4 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I do read Navy lookout as well, some great info on there!

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_791520)
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

I think the RN should opt for another 4 or 5 or so NSM sets and fit out all the escort ships available- so 15 if my calculations are correct. They can be transferred over across to type 26 and type 31s when those vessels finally enter service. The type 45s haven’t had a very strenuous service career to date so should be in a good material state to see them through to their out of service date. If money could be found I’d like the Bofors 40mm guns fitted and the sea ceptor fit accelerated to ensure an air… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42 (@guest_791075)
4 months ago

Good to see progress, what’s been going in with Daring? She should be finished and back in the fleet by now?

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_791126)
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

Yes, I am also wondering to know, what’s up with her?

Bob
Bob (@guest_791368)
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

I’m hoping she is having the CAMM fit installed.

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_792959)
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Unlikely at the moment, because No long lead equipment have been ordered for Darling, only Hms Defender.

Colin Brooks
Colin Brooks (@guest_791094)
4 months ago

Great news apart from the comment that the new engines are ‘greener’.
Green has nothing to do with effectiveness.
ALL attempts to be green are detrimental to effectiveness.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791124)
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

Well the fuel tanks are the same size so if the engines uses less juice then the ship goes further between refuels?

That increases operational range.

Is that better?

Rugger-13
Rugger-13 (@guest_791180)
4 months ago

The 3 new Diesel-Generators will be more efficient and powerful than the old ones. I would not expect the range to be reduced dramatically. The 2 gas turbines generator (GTG) are the gas-guzzlers but these are for max power and when going at speed. Most of the time using one GTG and one or two diesel generators would be sufficient. Using all of them is for when the ambient sea and air temperatures are very warm and all the Air conditioning is running – like when operating in the Gulf or Red Sea.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791187)
4 months ago
Reply to  Rugger-13

I was implying the range would increase.

Currently a T45 has to use a GT plus DG’s when underway.

With the new setup it can cruise at low speeds on DG’s alone so I would expect big fuel savings.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_791213)
4 months ago

… and thus the description of being greener I suspect, though there may be other inherent improvements in more modern machinery too.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_791785)
4 months ago

No it doesn’t You could split the switch board and have a GTA set running FWD with the other GTA running AFT. You can have one GTA running the whole ship with the DG set as emergency back up. The old DG sets were used during RAS and entering harbour etc as emergency back up to the GTA. With the GTA issues the old DG sets where being run all the time , something they were not designed to do. The New DG sets can power the ship without the GTA for as you said slow speed but the DG… Read more »

Colin Brooks
Colin Brooks (@guest_791301)
4 months ago

In all cases the word ‘GREEN’ means reduced CO2 emissions, does anyone think that this improves performance?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791307)
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

If you use less litres of marine diesel per kWh generated then that is simply more efficient which is greener as a byproduct.

As these DGs are massively more powerful I can’t possibly see how that would degrade performance.

So I’m lost as to what this comment is really about.

I’m personally rather more bothered about particulates and NOx than CO2 and these DGs will produce much less particulates and NOx than the old ones.

Colin Brooks
Colin Brooks (@guest_791320)
4 months ago

When it comes to the military Nothing is important other than maximising performance, noise, exhaust gases etc. should not be considered.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791330)
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

The are quieter, more power and more fuel efficient what more do you want.

Exhaust gases should be cooler to given improvements in efficiency and design. It is impossible to say that without knowing how these DGs are set up – which we never will.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_791137)
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

Greener in this case I would assume means more efficient. How is that detrimental to effectiveness?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_791214)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Exactly if anything it’s rather more effective.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_791212)
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

That is just not true only modifying old designs not really suitable for such upgrades might suffer somewhat. All RR new engines for example will be far greener, but also far more efficient, powerful and superior to their predecessors. Indeed all modern car engines are greener, more efficient and generally more powerful than predecessors, the only potential downside might be complexity but that’s not a given indeed RR aero engines are generally less complex in some ways having less moving parts and compression stages as a rule.

George Amery
George Amery (@guest_791103)
4 months ago

Hi folks hope all is well.
This is all very well and encouraging to see these great ships being upgraded and made fit for purpose.
However, I’m slightly concerned about the time it takes to carry out work, not just the Type 45’s, although all work appears to take ages!
I suppose my main concern is in the event of an emergency, would it take as long? Hopefully not. Would we have enough skilled staff to work 24/7 in such a short time frame?
Cheers
George

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791125)
4 months ago
Reply to  George Amery

It is amazing what you can do when there is some real pressure!

The reality is the one closest to returning to service would get a full team to get her out.

There is always a rapid return to service program for all warships being worked on.

Obvs if it is in dry dock with holes in the hull and engines out that won’t be fast.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg (@guest_791123)
4 months ago

Am I imagining it, or did I read a while back that the T45s would be fitted with Mk41 VLSs? Seems to have gone very quiet on that front if so

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_791130)
4 months ago

The T45s are having 24 Sea Ceptor fitted each, instead.

Last edited 4 months ago by Meirion X
Paul T
Paul T (@guest_791142)
4 months ago

The Type 45’s had been designed to take MK41 VLS,but due to cost cutting they were put into the FFBNW category,if that has changed we would have heard about it by now.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_791543)
4 months ago

You may have confused the announcement that T31 & T26 will have Mk41 VLS fitted, which in the case of the T31 especially is a great boost to its effectiveness & versatility. I thought the ame until others pointed out that the space designed for the eventuality had been taken by a gym & the new Sea Ceptor farm. The latter substantially increases the SAM missiles carried, improving survivability v stauration attacks.

Arson Fire
Arson Fire (@guest_791146)
4 months ago

I love reading these comments more than the articles. You lot are a very interesting and well informed bunch.

EnglishElectricLightning
EnglishElectricLightning (@guest_791167)
4 months ago
Reply to  Arson Fire

Hear hear! The comments are always far more interesting and informative than the articles! I have never served, I’m just an interested layman, always impressed by the knowledge and thoughtfulness of many of the regular contributors

Jack.
Jack. (@guest_791236)
4 months ago

Agree! Thanks so much for the comments, Supportive Bloke and others, you have taught me a lot. The technical aspects are fascinating and we can begin to see what’s possible vs what a layman might think could be done.

DeeBee
DeeBee (@guest_791163)
4 months ago

With what’s going on in the world right now, not to mention what else may ‘kick off’ we really need all 6 T45s ready for operations. Here’s a question for the ones who know about such matters, I believe HMS Richmond has replaced HMS Diamond on operations, is Richmond as capable as a Type45 in targeting & engaging airborne threats? As far as I’m aware Type 23s have no Phalanx/ ciws, is this a bit risky?

Marked
Marked (@guest_791195)
4 months ago
Reply to  DeeBee

True, capability is significantly lower not being a specialised air defence ship and also has no ciws, it has been commented on another thread. The fact the US recently had to use ciws highlights the concern. Frankly its a disgrace that any warship lacks ciws, the cost is miniscule in comparison to the value of the ship and its crew.

Last edited 4 months ago by Marked
Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_791216)
4 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Geez if she gets hit, imagine the potential repercussions esp if there were casualties.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_791235)
4 months ago
Reply to  Marked

The design doesn’t have any way to mount CIWS. Future frigates will have them.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_791322)
4 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Absolutely for the sake of a ship and crew doesn’t bere thinking about 👍

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_791206)
4 months ago
Reply to  DeeBee

Hms Richmond is not a AAD/AAW vessel. So is not as capable as a T45, and she can not take too many risks.

Tomartyr
Tomartyr (@guest_791439)
4 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

CIWS doesn’t do AAD, it’s point defence.
It shouldn’t affect the role or use in any way, just act as a last layer of defence

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_791548)
4 months ago
Reply to  DeeBee

No, it doesn’t have the range the Aster missile carried by the T45 can reach. Nor the dedicated longe range radar. No CIWS is a gap, though the sea Ceptor missiles carried hopefully would take out misiles or drone before they get within its minimun engagement range. Diamond should restore its missiles etc, rest its crew in Gib & hopefully be back on station in a week or so. I’m sure Richmond will do its best & USN/other allies will compensate for her limitations, but this is where only building 6 T45 to replace 14 odd T42s comes back to… Read more »

DeeBee
DeeBee (@guest_791559)
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

Thanks for the reply, to you and others, I couldn’t agree more.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_791789)
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

The LRR doesnt control ASTER engagements …thats a Sampson job on T45.

A T23 with Artisan you can identify and track targets at over 100miles. You control the missiles with separate data link domes fwd and aft. You need artisan to tell you where the missile and target are so the system can calculate future intercept point and send the info via the data link. The Ceptor system also has other modes available to it for engagements.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_791818)
4 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thanks GB, always illuminating.

Steve
Steve (@guest_791165)
4 months ago

Why on earth aren’t they doing the missile upgrade at the same time. Insane to take them out of service for 2 major upgrades in short time period when there are only 6 of them

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_791209)
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Because the new CAMM missile equipment and materials for the T45’s are longer lead items, they need to be ordered a few years in advance. Which means the new equipment for Hms Defender has just been produced, and will arrived at the yard in due course, or some of it already there, or arrive later in year.
No new missile equipment was produced for Darling or Dragon yet. You cannot produce complex equipment at a drop of a hat!

Last edited 4 months ago by Meirion X
Steve
Steve (@guest_791250)
4 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

It’s not like this is new. It was announced to the public over a years ago and that means negotiations probably started a year or two before then. Could easily have all the parts made by now if there was the desire since they are already designed just needs to me modified a bit to fit. The missiles themselves are in stock.

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_791681)
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

The decision was only made in the 2021 SDSR for the CAMM upgrade! That’s still less then 3 years ago.Still no time to order CAMM for earlier T45s.

Steve
Steve (@guest_791782)
4 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Your telling me 3 years isn’t enough time to order a launch system. CAMM and its integration into UK ships is a known property so all that was required was to order and build the launchers. Ukraine managed to do their integrations on completely unknown platforms for them in weeks.

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_792976)
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

In Ukraine’s case, in wartime mode, the wheels of procurement turn very fast with the funding for it as well.

That is not the case with the MoD in Whitehall. The wheels of bureaucracy turn more slowly in Peace time. The need to arrange funding etc, and negotiations with supplier, and to drew up contracts, requirements, can take weeks alone, sometimes months.

Steve
Steve (@guest_793000)
4 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Yeah for sure and also takes longer as needs to be tested to be fully safe etc, but 2 years they couldn’t achieve that? Instead will have to pay more as it involves dry docking twice instead of once and hits capability for longer.

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_791256)
4 months ago

It’s all taking to long. This should be a 24/7 project.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_791524)
4 months ago

Alway good, having just 6 Air defence destroyers, for one to be getting closer to returning to ops after refit. The world is far too dangerous to be juggling tasking from just 6 hulls. We need more destroyers that can “sweep the skies” of drones & misiles. Saturation attacks seem the choice of our enemies, so we need these long range assets as well as shorter ranged frigates with Sea Ceptor.

Richard Humphries
Richard Humphries (@guest_792288)
4 months ago

Hurrah! Our navy has a ship that works! But how long will it be until it breaks down. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the dry docks!”