The cost of fixing the propulsion issues on the Type 45 Destroyer fleet has been revealed.

In 2015, the Ministry of Defence acknowledged that the vessels propulsion system, specifically, the Northrup Grumman intercooler was experiencing reliability issues, previously reported as nothing more than “teething troubles”.

A staggered refit was also announced, which will involve cutting into the ships’ hulls and fitting additional diesel generation capacity, this has become known as Project Napier.

According to the Royal Institute of Naval Architects:

“Project Napier was established in 2014 with two core work strands. The first of these, known as the Equipment Improvement Plan (EIP), is continuing efforts to enhance system reliability and to meet the original design intent in the near term. The second component of Project Napier is a longer term Power Improvement Plan (PIP), intended to improve overall system resilience by adding upgraded diesel generators to provide the electrical generation capacity required to meet the overwhelming majority of propulsion and ship power requirements without reliance on WR-21.”

Project Napier will cost £280 million.

The reliability issues with the intercooler lead to occasional near-complete power generation failures, temporarily disabling not only propulsion, but power generation for weapons, navigational systems, and other purposes, leaving the ships vulnerable to “total electric failure”.

HMS Daring’s engines failed in the mid-Atlantic in 2010 and had to be repaired in Canada, with further repairs for engine failure in 2012 in Bahrain after it encountered propulsion problems while on patrol off the coast of Kuwait.

In June this year, Ministry of Defence officials admitted that the ships were breaking down because the intercooler could not cope with the warm waters of the Gulf.

Manufacturers Rolls-Royce of the fully functioning, non-problematic turbines said that the intercoolers for the WR-21 had been built as specified, but that conditions in the Middle East were not “in line with these specs”.

The MoD said:

“The Type 45 was designed for world-wide operations, from sub-Arctic to extreme tropical environments, and continues to operate effectively in the Gulf and the South Atlantic all year round.”

Current First Sea Lord Admiral Philip Jones clarified:

“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.”

It should be noticed that despite the problems, the Royal Navy has been able to deploy Type 45 destroyers in nine-month cycles to the Gulf region where temperatures are high with little fault.

76 COMMENTS

  1. The amount of so called migrants / isis and hard pushed border agency we need a presence in our waters with such a large coastline and easy to enter bays

  2. Adm Jones is providing misleading information. The RN hoped/assumed that the WR21’s would degrade gracefully in hot climates because all of their existing gas turbines did. However it was never put into the contract specifications, and it was never tested.

    The Type 45 was specked and contracted in a major hurry because of the late withdrawal of the UK from the European Horizon program. As a consequence, the MoD cut a lot of corners and made some foolish decisions. The major being to select the WR21 straight out of the research laboratory rather than choosing a mature power plant.

    Hoon took that decision based on buying jobs & votes in the UK. Of course he paid the price for that bad decision. Ha, ha, just joking, he didn’t suffer at all, he has a cushy high paying job at Westlands in addition to his generous parliamentary pension. Such is UK procurement.

  3. Whatever led us to this situation, it is paramount that this is rectified as a matter of urgency. T45 has an excellent record serving as a constituent part of different battle groups around the world. It would be tantamount to lunacy to not get at least half of the T45 fleet retrofitted prior to the working up of the new QE carriers. I assume the would not sail for the working up without some escort. They will not have their offensive air combat contingent for some time yet.

    Thoughts?

  4. Maybe a good time to have another look at adding some strike length missiles to them and making them useful for something in ‘peace time’.

  5. Supply equipment cheap and the MOD will buy it. Put into the contract that you are the only ones who can repair it and you are quids in. Always been like that.

  6. As stated in the article it isn’t as if these ships haven’t been extremely useful vessels for the RN.
    They have been part of major US carrier groups and will do the same job when the QEC come into service in next few years.
    The problems need to be rectified, but we should not forget these are the among the best air defence ships ever built.

  7. £46m a ship. Not too bad really and some of that cost is probably pretty much fixed cost for dry docking them for the duration of the work so let’s get the maximum value we can from that and fit the MK41 launchers while they’re in for repair. Even if dry-docking isn’t absolutely required for fitting MK41 it would still probably make it easier with better access to overhead lifting equipment and better stability of the platform during the work. If we’re ever going to do it then this repair cycle really would seem to be the time.

  8. We should have just bought Arliegh Burke Class from the US. We always build the biggest load of crap for the Navy ” make do ” and it always costs us more in the long run I just dont understand why we dont buy or get USA to build ships for the RN we always turn to the Europeans for advice perhaps now we are out of Europe we could do some Deals with the US Ship Builder and stop BAE systems getting involed because the cannot design sh%t
    It’s obvious that the Type-45 would have scored less when compared to the Burke if you consider anti-submarine and land attack capability. But it was designed as a single role ship from the outset. Early reports suggest that it could have had 72 VLS for Aster SAMs if the VLS cells were compactly placed like on the Burke. There are rumors that it can be upgraded with the 12 new A70 VLS in front of its existing 48 A50 cells, which has a similar deck footprint and will enable it to launch Tomahawk/Scalp cruise missiles which would take near the level of Burke in capabilities.
    We can conclude by saying that the Type-45 is better equipped to deal with modern aerial threats when compared to Burke. It can engage more targets simultaneously and its AESA radars+Aster SAM combination heavily tilt the result in its favour. However, the Burke is an all-rounder which wins in surface and anti-submarine warfare. Finally when it comes to habitability and crew comfort, the Type-45 is more like a cruise ship modified into a warship and this plays a big role during long deployments which stretch up to 6 months. If i had to pick one to fight in World War III, then Arleigh Burke would top my list as its versatility and all-round performance is unmatched.

  9. Is it a flaw with the design, should the company that makes the propulsion systems not be fitting some of the bill if there is an issue with there product ?? Whilst I agree that it is vital they are fixed or upgraded to actually work properly should the manufacturer be also held accountable for a flawed product ?? Good luck to the crews and engineers that work on these beautiful weapons systems 😉

  10. Plenty of stupid, ill-informed, non-informed, opinionated nonsense comments spouted by people on here. It seems no forum is safe from this, we certainly live in the “anti-fact” age.

  11. I could not care less. The ships & their crews defend our shores & protect those that cannot protect themselves. I have novproblem paying for a service the Royal Navy & SBS provide.

    • Utter tripe… if a 747 was not able to fly between 34k and 41k feet but this limitation was not highlighted at purchase would it seriously be the airline customers fault if they expected to fly to the 43kft advertised at purchase? Spare me the defence of the Tier1 leeches, this has bugger all to do with customer responsibility and everything to do with duty of care to deliver a capable product.

  12. Shame really, the previous three classes of Rolls Royce propelled ships performed faultlessly fro many years. Some still are. I am ex navy engineer so I ought to know. As for these ships, it seems the Civil Servantns have cocked up big time with their original statement of requirements (not the first time I might add) and that has led to problems with propulsion performance. Not the end of the world but very embarrassing for the MoD. I don’t envy the engineers currently having to nurse their systems along when it gets hot.

  13. Perhaps, they should tow some icebergs to the gulf to make the sea cooler, instead of the cost of Project Napier!

  14. Turf the WR21s and use the tried and true LM2500 – use of the same footprint was a US requirement during the initial design/development so I am guessing it remained a requirement? There will always be some sort of full power loss in an environment like the Persian Gulf but the LM2500s perform well and are far less complex.

  15. If the country can’t build a warship properly, that does not exactly inspire confidence in the navy’s ability to do anything useful in a war situation. In other words, really serious incompetence has incurred here. Are heads going to roll? I doubt it. This is Britain: it’s everyone’s fault, so it’s no-one’s fault…

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