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A contract to fully rectify issues within the Type 45 Destroyer fleet will be awarded in 2018 it has been confirmed.
Asked by Flick Drummond, Member for Portsmouth South:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to award contracts for the Power Improvement Project for the Type 45 destroyer class.”
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Defence:

“On current plans, we anticipate that the Ministry of Defence will be able to award the contract for the Power Improvement Project for the Type 45 Destroyer class in early 2018.”

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.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Honest question, if these ships aren’t performing as they should be, why isn’t the cost of rectifying the fault being met by the manufacturer?

        • Flippant but factually correct and to be honest in line with the quality of comments on this site. The UDJ do a very good job and the thanks they get is frankly prattle ….

    • Because the MoD (Hoon) insisted on the WR21’s against the recommendations of Bae. The MoD at the time, said they would assume all risks. All explained in Parliament.

    • Because they are not at fault. From what i’ve read the intercooler and engines met the specification submitted by the MOD. In other words the MOD did what it does best!

    • Built as specified, with the usual compromise of speed, performance, space and cost. On this occasion the MOD got it wrong.

      • Actually that’s not a sufficient answer. It would have cost more AT THE TIME, and that means having cut from 12 to 8 to 6, it might, who knows, have been cut to 4. As it is. there’s been 6 usable T45s in all but the most extreme and sustained of conditions.

  2. maybe out of warranty but i would have had harsh words and treatment of BAE,for starters i would have give them an option fix the problem at there expense or risk loosing contracts they are not the only defence contractor in the UK,and the MOD and government have been to soft allowing one company to run defence building,especially when they pay millions to retain skilled workers or so they say….BAE are just robbing the taxpayer…and as for the hot waters not being in line for the intercooler specs,do these idiots that design and build our military equipment not relise we could end up operating in all weathers and temperatures in any part of the world…..

  3. Main question – when it has been blindingly obvious for years that the issue has been with the US intercoolers has all the press blame been put on Rolls Royce and the diesel generators? Yes, I know the replacement diesels should have been original equipment but if Northop had done their job right there would never have been an issue.

    • Yet again, please research topic instead of assuming BS. The MoD ordered the WR21’s before they were adequately tested. Risk did not pay off.

  4. Adm Jones, is rewriting history. The evidence presented to the Parliamentary Defence Committee was that the RN & MoD ASSUMED the motors would degrade gracefully in hot conditions. They neither contractually asked for it nor tested. Not smart.

    • Yes, but they got them built whereas otherwise they might not.

      Personally I’d go for 6 95% T45s, rather than 0 100% ones, when the whole thing got cancelled due to even more delays and increase in cost. As often happens with projects – get the thing out there and correct any problems later on. That’s life.

  5. It is good that we have clarification now of when power supply issues resolved. The type 45 hull at least was designed to have a wide margin, meaning space onboard for expansion of weapons, power or sensors.
    It seems logical that when the type 45s are taken out for the power rectification refit that they are finally fitted with mk41 strike length silos. That will finally provide the ships with their true warfighting capacity. Anything other than mk41, +retrofitting with 5inch gun would be a waste of time whilst out of the water for 3-6 months.
    Just need to find £400 million for the weapons upgrades. Wonder if Spreadsheet Phill has looked under the sofa recently?

  6. Ron5.. I read your comments, but sometimes i think you could be a bit less aggressive towards other peoples comments, no need to be so rude. Grow Up !!!

  7. Just a thought – anyone heard when the MoD will issue their response to the National Ship Building Strategy rolled out last year? Last I recall it was due this month.

  8. T45s should be saved for blue water CVA escorting. We only have 6 of them so best not use them for TLAM as the F35’s can do that with 550km air launched NSM. So because they should always be near a CVA then deck launched anti-torpedo torpedos (cheap to install behind the hangar) and 2087 sonar (works best in deep water and must fit in somehow) would be a useful addition as it would free up a Frigate for tasks further away.

    • I suspect this is the thinking of the MOD. We only have limited resources to spend and the money for the strike tubes better spent elsewhere.

      If we had a war situation, we would need at least 2 destroyers per carrier and still need something to provide coverage for the landing force/supply ships, meaning there would be 0 or a minus number of t45’s available for anything other than air defence.

      The destroyers are meant to be pretty noisy, so the 2087 sonar’s would be better used elsewhere, plus they would need to be close to the vessels they are protecting and so not providing much of a anti-sub net. Ideally I would like to see us keeping a few in reserve, and fitting the 31s with the equipment to use them, to support the t26’s.

      If any money then came spare, i would spent it upgrading either the carriers/albions with some form of point defense missiles or putting some form of missile system on the OPV or even upgrading the OPV’s with better sonars.

      We would all like to see the 45’s hit their full potential, but we know there is limited money and so keeping spending to where it benefits most should be the plan and there are just so many ‘needs’ right now.

      • What about the anti ballistic missile capability that the mk41 system would allow us to field. I don’t think the T26s radar would be up to the job of tracking them, making them a better fit on the T45s.

        • This is a bigger issue, a solution is to use the 45s radar to guide the 23s missiles, a strategy used in the faulklands. This is a gap we need to plug but I feel we have bigger ones that have a priorty

          • Definitely a solution and would be a good stop gap measure

            Generally speaking: I get the financial constraints, I really do. But I can’t help thinking that as a nation, we’re taking a view that’s too short term. The cost of the MK41 VLS system is a small fraction of the cost of the ship and would vastly increase its capability. The devastation an intermediate range nuclear ballistic missile landing on a population centre would cause would eclipse the cost of the system by many orders of magnitude and such weapons are proliferating at an accelerating rate. I think the days we can ignore the risk are well and truly behind us and I’d argue that given the small numbers of hulls in operation, we need to make each one individually of capable as possible.

      • The financial constraints are mostly because of the bureaucraticlly expensive procurement system.

        That aside, if we can’t or shouldn’t put the 2087 on the T45 then how about putting it on a quiet ASW version of an OPV to operate ahead of the CVA but still under the T45 umbrella? Even at their inflated prices we could still have 6 for the price of 1 T26. It would have ASW helos from the CVA plus be able to carry its own CamCopter with a dipping pinger to give offboard active sonar. Add some torpedos as well, and replace the 30mm with a 35mm Millenium CIWS then it could be a cost effective way of doing the ASW job.

        We could also use them near the UK hunting Russian subs and shadowing their ships past our coastline. Perhaps 6 of them to pair up with the T45s would allow us to cancel the T26s and afford 18 T31s GP ships with NSM for land attack. We should also replace the Aster 15s with quad packed CAMMs.

        If there’s anything left for a MK41/SM3 project then how about the T45s remotely controlling a VLS carried by the CVA. Given that they are the biggest targets we want to protect it would be ok and cheaper than fitting MK41s to all T45s.

        • They can’t take the political fall out of retro fitting silos on the carriers after the delays and its botched f35 purchasing resulting in lack of jets in place in time. So that is a no go. What I thought about was a container version of the replacement system to rapier, that could be deck mounted on a helo spot and so require no changes to the carriers themselves.

          Being able to upgrade the opv to carry out some form of force multiplier role in the event of a war seems highly sensible, even if it’s just a 4 pack of hellfire missiles. There must be room on them to include some form of point defence capability.

  9. @Richard

    I agree that the Armed Forces need to work within their budget, as do other departments and indeed we ourselves in our own lives. However as had been opined many times here before, the budget made available by HMG simply isn’t large enough to do what the politicians want and thus forcing way too many constraints. You want X?; well you will have to give up Y to get it. It’s crazy and it’s happening more and more these days, causing too many capability gaps for too long a time. It needs to change – more money made available or less commitments. Unfortunately, we all know the answer……

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