HMS Defender has arrived back into Portsmouth after her first time back at sea following an 18-month refit.

Commanding Officer of HMS Defender Commander Richard Hewitt said:

“I am incredibly proud to have taken HMS Defender to sea for the first time in 18 months thanks to the hard work of Team Portsmouth, BAE Systems and my ship’s company. With a number of major capability upgrades, HMS Defender is now the most capable T45 in the Fleet. My crew and I look forward to the challenges of regenerating HMS Defender, in the last stage of the first T45 refit in the Royal Navy, in preparation for our Fleet Date later this year.”

According to the Royal Navy, while out in the South West exercise areas HMS Defender saw her sister ships HMS Diamond and HMS Dragon – both of which were also out on various training serials and testing of equipment. HMS Dragon is working under the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation in Devonport.

A fourth Type 45 destroyer – HMS Duncan is currently the Flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 and is shortly due to visit Constanta following a series of exercise with her NATO allies in the Black Sea.


  1. Is this the T45 permanent fix or another spin to prove they can operate in conditions south of the Isle of Wight?

    • Martin Symes, Type 45s have operated extensively in hot conditions. You clown. Now run off to please Putin.

      • (Chris H) – for those so eager to rubbish the T45 sadly I have to report that no T45 has failed to complete an exercise or operation because of power failure. Yes there is a problem with ‘catastrophic’ rather than the designed in ‘progressive’ shutdown of the engines when the intercooler system trips out due to heat. But as the Royal Navy always does it has found a way to retrieve power after these ‘trip outs’.

  2. “with a number of major capability upgrades…” – such as???

    Would love to know what these are – unfortunately Mk41 VLS isn’t one of them…

    • According to ‘HMS Defender arrived back in Portsmouth after major work, including two new gas turbines being fitted along with signals intelligence equipment and electronic surveillance kit’. I think the word ‘major’ is a bit far. Also no mention of additional generators.

    • additional generating source. to act as an immediate backup has been trialed before when one of the type 42’s(cardiff) struggled with power issues. most problems were solved by upgrades to necessary equipment.don’t worry its a media lack of news day when this rubbish appears. the type 45 is a great ship, be glad we have it.i’m sick of the negativity from posters on this site,

  3. Maybe I’m too easily pleased but, given how few T45 we have, I love seeing photos with more than one in shot and at sea at once.

    • Would be great to see a shot of all six with Flagship Daring leading Line astern! Doubt though if we will ever see them all seaworthy at the same time.

      • Sadly getting every ship in any fleet to see at once just never happens. Obviously manpower is currently an issue for the RN, and in the T45s case reliability has caused some problems, but also SOP means theres always going to be some ships in for scheduled maintenance. Still, once the major refits are all completed, the RN should finally be able to meet its requirement of having 5 destroyers at sea simultaneously.

        How about a full carrier battle group for a great photo op? 😉

    • Did you spot that one of the T45s appears to be missing her Phalanx CIWS. I thouth all the T45s had them fitted,

    • Agree with you Julian. My thoughts exactly. The thought that we actually have four out at sea at once fills me with joy…

  4. The final solution is to remove the two wartsila 12v200 diesel generators with three more powerful units. Once this has occurred they will change from cruising on their gas turbines to cruising on their diesels and using the GTs for dash only. Should be happening in the early 2020s. Apparently its impractical to change out the gas turbines.

    I know a lot of people blame BAE for this but interestingly BAE actually told HMG not to go for an unproven gas turbine design but got overruled, unfortunately they were proven right with the intercooler recouperator issues causing occasonal faliure of the GTs and a cascade trip out on the wartsilas as they suffer overload…… Ending in total propulsion faliure and to rub salt in total power loss ( which is good going considering the ship has four generators).

    Effectively they are leaving the fault in place but mitigating the risks of propulsion amd power loss by not actually using the GTs very often. One would imagine that with both GTs and the new diesels they may end up a smig faster that they are now ? Well until the GTs pack up and it’s back cruise speed…

    • (Chris H) Jonathan – My understanding is the Rolls Royce GT itself was a proven design and has performed as expected. The issue was with the unproven intercooler / recuperator from Northrop – Grumman (previously Westinghouse) . It was this combination that BAE recommended not using. Sadly the name ‘WR-21’ covers the whole package not just the Gas Turbines.

      that RR went on to design and deliver the faultless and widely used MT30 from that same basic design maybe proves the point.

      • Yep but unfortunately they can’t just change out the intercooler/recuperatior apparently so the WR-21 will remain at risk when in use, all very unfortunate.

    • with all the maintenance, going on, could we field one? i think it would need 2 type 45’5’s, 2 type23’s an astute, tanker and airborne warning cover.

  5. Looking at the photo above, I see we are still shuffling a couple of Harpoon kits throughout the T45 fleet. Diamond with, Dragon without.

  6. 18 months for a refit! No time and a half worked there then. T45’s too big, under gunned, unreliable. Let’s hope the similarly ridiculously over sized QE class fares better.

    • Bill the reason most modern war ships are bigger that the previous generation relates to modern building standards and habitability requirements for blue water vessels. If you designed and built a direct analog of a type 23 today guess what sort of size you would get to.

      There is also a very good efficient argument for building larger hulls as refit tends to be easier and you can stack more weight higher up with less stability issues. I’m wondering what the sea keeping/stability of a 3-4K ton hull would be if it had the same mast and top weight of a 45, but I suspect broaching to in a high sea state would end in the modern warships interpretation of a death roll ( its as un fun as it sounds).

      • Thanks Jonathan. I hadn’t seen your post when I made mine below. It looks as if I got a few of the issues right. Good point on the more modern crew accommodation standards. I have seen that mentioned a few times before so that is a point I sort of knew about but temporarily forgot.

      • Everything you say Jonathan plus the sheer amount of advanced electronics on board. These need space to install, but more importantly loads of cabling, generation and cooling systems. Also a lot of space for future improvements. Lots of reserve buoyancy and very wide corridors for systems removals and flood control and firefighting teams to get around easily. Lots of things contribute to size.

    • Why do you say T 45s are too big? They are AAW specialist so to me that would imply that they need to be big enough to…

      – support the topside weight requirement of getting a good main radar positioned at a good height

      – if they’re going to be world-class AAW they also need space to carry a second volume search radar which implies sufficient clearances around everything so that nothing is interfering with anything else on the vessel that it isn’t meant to

      – they need space for capacious enough missile silos to withstand saturation attacks and to add additional ABM capability in the future (some would neither of those requirements are actually there, or at least not unless that FFBNW Mk41 silo space is used for extra silo capacity)

      And on top of all that as I understand it they were trying use lessons learned from T23 and make sure there was a good margin for expansion.

      As I see it building T45 any smaller would not have allowed them to do the job as well as they do but I would love to hear from real experts on the matter. Maybe you are one of those real experts Bill in which case I would be interested to know why some or all of my thinking above might be wrong.

    • being in a type 45 crew must be tough on home life they’re not at home very often, unless they’re broke dragon is in fine fettle, my son on it says they’re yet to change a lightbulb!! most of the media speak is utter rubbish. daring and dauntless aside, they are fine ships and we should be proud to have them and not feed those who would do us down, including several posters on this site. the type 23 is still a supreme anti submarine platform, the carriers in time will be a massive boost to the R.N whatever the future holds for the albion class(only the treasury can answer that one,) if it wasn’t for the small number of ships in the fleet, i think we’re putting the navy down too often instead of being proud to have the best ships of ALL types, the best crews in the thatcher said ‘rejoice!

  7. I’m wondering when they will announce the refit to 5 inch guns, I would imagine they would want to have them all refitted by the time the last 23 leaves the fleet so they can remove the 4.5inch completely at that point and get the saving. It’s probably going to need to happen at the same time as they go into their major propulsion refits otherwise they will end up having to support the training and logistics pipelines for a couple of 4.5guns for years after they needed to……….which would be the night of fuckwitery

    • I agree that would be great. The trouble is that is going to need up-front budget allocated in order to save on future costs, future costs that very probably won’t show up until some other party is in power or, if the same party, a different set of ministers and politicians wanting to get re-elected. The 5″ guns are expensive so I can see the current politicians not wanting to allocate any of that defence budget to 5″-ers for the T45, there’s more positive PR to be had from an extra T31.

      It’s the perennial problem with democracy. If only we could find some way such that failing to make spending decisions that reduce costs over a longer timeframe than a single parliament could somehow be made to have a visible detrimental financial impact on the current government’s budgets. I have no idea how that could be done but that is what would fix the problem. Actually, perhaps I can think of one way but there is no way that I can see that would make it possible to transition from the current system to the new way.

    • With what I understand about RN doctrine I can’t see the money for Mk45 NGS guns on Type 45 being high priority. The OTO 76mm maybe if it gets on Type 31.

    • might stockpile the decommed t23’s guns for the t31’s if they ever happen, given the lack of news, i’m starting to have my doubts.

  8. Probably during their midlife refits Jonathan, then again….
    If there’s a stack of removed 4.5″ systems from retired T23’s they might not bother to up gun the T45’s.

    I would love to see these T45’s reach their full potential, with Strike silo, 5″ gun and ER Asters swapped out for Aster ER or equivalent.

    I would also swap out the Aster 15 for quad packed SeaCeptor.

    That would give an enormous 80+ missile capability creating one hell of a protective umbrella for a task group.

    As we will likely only ever have 4 ships in commission at any one time, we need to ensure we get maximum bang for our buck from each vessel

    • If the ABM variant of Aster can fit in the existing Sylver 50 silos (can it?) and if we reluctantly accept that funding might never become available for fitting the Mk41 then might a still-useful halfway house be to fit dedicated Sea Ceptor silos in that FFBNW space?

      My guess is that T26 will go with LM’s stand-alone 3 cell ExLS modules to quad-pack Sea Ceptor for it’s dedicated Sea Ceptor silos and I seriously hope T31 will also have Sea Ceptor and if it does I would guess it would probably be hosted the same way so tagging onto those ExLS orders should get some volume savings. (Yes, I know T26 will also have a Mk41 order to tag onto but Mk41 is, I assume, appreciably more expensive than ExLS.)

      I think the FFBNW space on T45 is for 12 x Mk41 so that’s definitely going to be enough to fit 4 3-cell ExLS units to house 48 Sea Ceptor in addition to the 48 Asters of various types in the existing 48 missile Sylver 50 silo. As a possible added bonus, ExLS has a lot less depth of hull penetration than Mk41 and with the T45 FFBNW space sized for Mk41 it’s even possible that with shallower ExLS fitted there might still be enough headroom at the bottom of that space to permit the crew to keep their gym (access ways permitting). ExLS is cold launch so hopefully no health and safety issues there either although not sure what the noise levels might be like if a canister was fired with someone below.

    • i’d imagine, to save money and if the asset swapping plan appears to be heading we may simply just get removal of the gun from a t23 and fitting it onto a 45.

    • how much stuff has been removed and stored for future use? the t42’s guns were a good platform. hats the kind of stuff we could re use in t31’s e.t.c

      • andy – I’m pretty sure when the Type 22’s and 42’s went off on their journey’s to be scrapped the 4.5 guns were still in situ.

  9. I would for sure like to see Aster ER, to allow ballistic protection against the new anti ship missiles being designed in the east. I would also like to see Harpoon replaced with a more modern missile, but this could easily be a straight swap using a more modern canister based system.

    However, i really don’t get the point of strike capability, in theory yes but living in the real world no. Missiles like tomahawk are insanely expensive, which means we can only afford a handful of them and these are on the subs currently. Why add tubes to ships and then not fill them, makes no sense.

    Focus the budget on real capability gaps, where we have no assets that can fill them adequately. Strike missiles are not in this category, since the subs can fill it just fine. In fact, you could argue that subs fill it more efficiently as they can get closer to the shore, to fire, than a surface vessel which would come under attack from defensive air cover.

    • I agree with your comment re not really getting the add-strike-capability thing. It’s doubly true now that we have the two carriers about to come into service where at any time at least one will be tying up at least 1 T45 for escort and we really should be doing a better job of escorting Albion/Bulwark as well so, with typical availability rates, that really does say to me that pretty much all T45 taskings will be in their specialist AAW roles so any use of the FFBNW space should be aimed at optimising that role not adding strike capability.

      One counter argument might be that if the sh*t hits the fan then we might need the extra strike capability but if that happens it seems to me equally valid that the need for 1 of our T45s for carrier escort would change to needing 2 T45s, possibly even 4 if both carriers deployed simultaneously, so we are still in a position where we would want T45 to fully concentrate on and be optimised for their AAW role. Leave strike to T26, aircraft, and who knows what T31 might or might not bring to the game.

    • Agree with your direction. For Type 45 I would go Aster 30 NT Block 1 in additonal 12 VLS tubes for intermediate ABM capability, swap the 4.5in for the OTO 76mm ( improved CIWS and option for guided ammo) plus upgrade existing Harpoon to Block II. With a Wildcat that would give an excellent AAW ship with the ability to look after itself.

    • pity the sponsons on the q.e are so smal on the q.e.l a r.i.m 116 combined anti air/ciws system would fit where the phalanx is due to be fitted.the 116 it used all over the world and is being fitted to the u.s ford class and at just£800,000 per unit, even the treasury would be happy.

  10. Jonathan and Julian, many thanks for your comments. What happened to the 155m gun that was definitely under consideration for the T45? I dont see why this could not have been introduced; was it ever trialled by BAE?
    We cut the silo cells – here we go again – from 48 to 32 to save money which greatly reduced the ability to successfully to resist saturation attacks, a fact l believe that the USN criticised heavily at the time. A AAW principally designed vessel with reduced capacity for just that! As I said an all singing and dancing warship is the only way to go and actually reduces the number of platforms required if certain quarters seek justification for that.

    • I thought the T45s have 48 x Sylver 50 now with FFBNW space for 12 Mk41. What is the cut from 48 to 32 that you are talking about? Am I wrong in thinking that T45 currently has 48 x Sylver 50 or are you talking about some other vessel/class?

    • Bill – the 155mm gun that you refer too didn’t see the light of day due to cuts as per 2010 SDSR.

  11. capital ships including the albions and th QE’S Should be fitted with the best missile defence available imagine the headline’ unarmed navy troop ship sunk 300 marines and crew lost.who would carry the can for that?

    • Whilst i agree, i can understand the thinking. Money is tight and we will never deploy a landing craft loaded with troops without adequate air defence in the area, whether this is provided by the t45’s, f35s or the frigates.

      I am also hoping they have at least factored into the design of land ceptor to be able to potentially deploy it on the deck of a ship, in a worst case scenario.

      My bigger concern is how we actually get the land ceptors ashore, since they appear not to be helicopter deployable.

        • I guess you don’t strictly need the missiles on land, since the aster30 have a pretty decent range, but you would need some form of radar, since the coast will likely break line of sight needed for Sampson.

          Do we have any ground based radar systems that can be networked into the t45’s?

          • I doubt it. Actually I guess you could get the Land Ceptor MAN lorry on shore from the LPDs. Land Ceptor is now known as Sky Sabre which refers to the networked system as a whole. It uses the Saab Giraffe radar which operates in the C-band. Sampson is an E/F band radar I think. Its above my pay grade but I don’t think we have the capability or even the desire to for example cue a Sky Sabre camm missile from a Sampson or Artisan radar or vice versa.

          • seems like a huge mistake to me. Situational awareness is key and the aim has to be to fire the defensive missiles as early as possible. When you consider there are multiple reasons why a single radar or missile system might fail, having a network of options seems key to me to avoiding something like what happened to hms Coventry.

      • we did it in 1982 the disaster at bluff cove sir galahad and sir tristram, happened because the harriers were up ahead of the carriers.

        • The Giraffe radar made by SAAB is an agile multibeam G/H band PESA radar. The C band wavelength is too long therefor the resolution for small target tracking is not accurate enough. For search radar C band is fine just not for tracking unless you have mega bucks computers available.
          The Chinook can lift a standard 11-12 metric tons. I’d be surprised if the Sky Sabre weighs this much?

          • (Chris H) Daveyb – I have no idea about the Army Land Ceptor or Sky Sabre elements but I do know a road going 6 x 2 MAN TGX tractor unit goes 8 tonnes on its own, the TGS 8 x 4 goes 9.4 tonnes without tipping gear or bodies and the HX 8 x 8 trucks of the British Army go 13.4 tonnes as bare chassis cabs.

            I hope that helps

            (retired ex MAN Main dealer Chargehand)

    • andy – yes would agree,now if there was no suitable Naval SAM system available and such a capability had to be developed from scratch then I could understand.But when there is the luxury of not just one but two suitable systems it does seem strange to me I must admit.

  12. In the Falklands a T22 passed via datalink targeting data from its superior 967/968 STI radar to a T42 which then acquired the target with its 909 FC radar and fired Seadart to shoot the target down. Sky Sabre is equipped with a datalink system to network it into the Giraffe radar and C2 system derived from Iron Dome. I can’t see why technically this same C2/Giraffe combination cannot pass target data to a T45, so long as it was within the LOS horizon. Whether it would be accurate enough to fire an Aster based on the data received I don’t know…

    • Nice story. But to cue the Aster wouldn’t the Sampson have to see the target anyway? I am befinning to fry my brain on this one.

  13. PaulP, Aster will be cued by the on-board fire control system. It normally receives targeting data from Sampson. In theory (although this would need testing) it could receive targeting information from any source. Indeed, this could be another T45’s Sampson in the event that two T45s working together covered different sectors as part of a task force. Indeed, at one point T45s we’re going to receive the American CEC (cooperative engagement capability) system that allows multiple targeting and engagements from for example other ships or an E2D. This will now not happen (treasury imposed cuts) but technically there is no reason why a shore based Giraffe could not inject target data into the T45’s C2/FC system. What I don’t know is what the quality of this data would be and whether it would be enough and updated frequently enough to enable Aster to be launched. Also bear in mind that Sampson provides mid-course guidance via an uplink to Aster once airborne. So in that sense you are right. Giraffe could not step in to do that. So, although Sampson might be blinded by terrain masking and not see the target, a shore based Giraffe could, pass the data to the T45 that fires the Aster which would be controlled (or updated) for part of its journey by Sampson, until Sampson became unsighted, by which point it is hoped its on-board closed loop guidance system would take over, indicate to the active seeker where to look, acquire the target and home onto it autonomously… Phew… quite a task! It might be touch and go, but technically not impossible…

    • Technically very possible. If the Sky Sabre is to be fitted with Link 16. Targeting data can be fed over this network as it’s already been proven by our E3Ds cooperating with Typhoon. The Typhoons operate in the passive mode where the E3Ds radar does all the active searching. The AMRAAM in this case is networked fired by the E3D and is given mid course guidance via Link 16 through the Typhoon until the missiles active seeker takes over.
      I would assume the PAAMS system to be more modern than the E3D therefor being fed data from another radar “should” be well within its capabilities. If the T45s are fitted with Link 16 then it’s totall feasible.

      • Two of the key lessons that should have been learnt from the falklands were 1) data links are important and shouldn’t be turned off 2) any one system can fail, and so having redundancy/overlap is more than a nice to have.

        I know money blocks this, but to me what we need is every asset in the field talking to every other. This means f35 providing CaP, t45/t23, landing crafts, land radar, merlin, wildcat should all be using their radars and all feeding into the central ‘information bank’ to enable extensive radar coverage with multiple layers of overlap.

        A single radar out of action for a few seconds for whatever reason, should not mean there is a gap in coverage. Which is why there needs to be more than one t45 in ecort duty, there needs to be a min of 4 to ensure solid coverage (capital ships would get in the way of a single t45, and so 2 is needed for 365 degrees coverage, and so 3 or 4 is required for redundancy. Ok 4 out of 6 is a pipe dream and why we have serious capability gaps that mean we can not operate alone anymore.

  14. Steve, we are where we are and so we’ve got to do the best with what we’ve got. Two T45s are going to provide good coverage and plenty of firepower. They’ll be linked up at all times. Then there will be Crowsnest. That’ll be linked up as well. Each frigate and the carrier will have ARTISAN as well. Also linked up. I think producing a recognised surface and air picture will not be a problem. Then we also have the S180M radars on the T45s and the Carrier. Once the F-35s get airborne they’ll add to the picture as well unless tactics demand they stay silent. The original question was whether forces going ashore could be covered by Aster. Answer yes, assuming they are within missile and radar range and coverage. So then the question was, what about if they are within range but out of radar coverage. Hence the debate round Giraffe and Sky Sabre. Totally agree with you that modern, digital line of sight data links are essential which is why it’s so sad that the RN has not gone down the CEC route. It was what Lord West was promised when he was CNS in exchange for agreeing to go down to 19 escorts. Later the Treasury renagued on the promise…

    • Another thing i am not entirely clear on and tried to research was how many crowsnest equipped merlins was needed to ensure a 24/7 coverage for a period of weeks and will we have sufficient airframes for this.

      Also from what i understand the idea is for the merlin to track advance of the fleet, because the radars range is limited and this means we have to know a single attack vector. How realistic is this in the near peer level combat i wonder.

      • Steve, assuming one aircraft is always going to be on scheduled or unscheduled maintenance, and sometimes two, and that three are needed to keep one in the air at all times, I would say minimum four, ideally five. I’m not an expert but would have thought Crowsnest would operate within air defence umbrella provided by the T45s and the F-35s. Crowsnest is a good system. The problem however is that it’s operating ceiling is not very high (being a helicopter) and therefore it’s radar horizon is not that great when compared to an E-2D Hawkeye, for example. By contrast, clutter rejection is less of a problem.

        • Personally I believe Crowsnest is going to be constrained fitted to the Merlin, especially as the Merlin should be concentrating on sub-hunting. It is an awesome radar with very good clutter rejection and a very high resolution for its wavelength. In my opinion it is just fitted to the wrong platform, It should be fitted to something like the Bell V247 Vigilant tiltrotor UAV. The radar would then be data-linked to the Carrier or Destroyer for processing. The 247 has the range, endurance and can fly higher than 18,000ft. This will give it a much longer radar picture than fitted to Merlin. Bit of a no brainer, as the USMC are currently funding development of the aircraft as part of their lethality program.

  15. Returning to the subject of the size of the T45, I saw a video recently of President Xi visiting the Liaoning. The mess decks (at least the ones shown) looked similar in size to western ones, but the companionways and corridors shown were approximately a half to a third of the width of comparable western designs. I’d hate to see NBCD, fire and repair parties running through these loaded down with equipment…


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