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

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.”

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, according to Government figures.

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.”

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 the Type 45 fleet in 9 month cycles with no real issues cropping up.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting article, just one minor point Flick Drummond is no longer MP for Portsmouth South she lost her job in June 2017.

  2. Well that’s a kick in the nuts. Almost £50 million per ship, that could have bought CEC and the 16 MK41 vls. Can’t see that happening now.

  3. I cannot see MK41 VLS being fitted to the T45s. The land attack role is designated to the SSNs, which added to Storm Shadow gives us some decent stand off options. Hope I am wrong on that but if it was a choice between another T31 and adding the VLS I would go for the extra hull.

    • I agree with you on the land attack role which is SSN now evolving to T26 plus maybe still SSN (I’m not sure whether sub-launched Tomahawk will continue to be in the inventory once T26 is in the mix) but as Pacman27 alludes to below, unless the ABM variant of Aster sees the light then we need Mk41 if T45 is ever to carry an ABM missile. In fact even if there is an ABM variant of Aster might T45 still need a VLS upgrade because right now it has Sylver 50 and I can well imagine that an ABM Aster might need A70 to accommodate its length.

  4. I have to say that without the mk41 strike VLS then these ships are a massive waste of money.

    We need these to be part of our ballistic defence system otherwise whats the point of having them.

    • Because they supplied the parts to the specs given. The original specs were wrong, hence the team at the MoD offering the contracts to tender screwed it up. They should all be fined.

    • I keep pointing this out but there is no way RR were unaware of the specification’s lack of fitness and the inter-cooler’s inability to operate in all conditions.

      BUT the project went ahead with the given spec and the contractor bought the equipment accordingly. I am absolutely certain that RR would have warned the MoD about this problem, perhaps more than once but yet the project went on, unchanged.

      It sounds to me that the MoD had a falling out with the contractor or is simply to arrogant to listen to its supply chain. Either way this is an example of how not to run a project.

    • The facts are that Bae recommended an American gas turbine instead of the WR21 whcih was still under development because the risk of using the WR21 was too high.

      Hoon as Minister of Defence overruled Bae and insisted on the Rolls Royce produce mainly because of votes in the Rolls constituency.

      That means that all risk in using the WR21’s fell on the MoD and not Bae and/or Rolls Royce. Hoon knew that and accepted the risk.

      All this was laid out in Parliament when the problems came to light.

      Punishment? Don’t be silly. Hoon is no longer in politics and has a fat job working as sales director for Leonardo helicopters.

      • Unnecessarily gloomy. New technology always carries high risk and since the second world war, the Royal Navy has introduced many, bold, and innovative solutions. The number of failures can be counted on one hand. On the other hand, there have been many successes that have been copied worldwide.

        • For example, the UK PAAMS system on the Type 45 is the number 1 AA system in the world by some distance. The US is trying to catch up with the fabulously expensive SPY6 and AEGIS upgrades. Everyone else is in the dust.

          Hear any issues with UK PAAMS? Didn’t think so.

  5. The cost is high for the repairs definetly but i cannot see why we do not get a small vl mk41 system fitted to these fine ships at the same time.
    they are going to be in dry dock for some time so makes sense to do this now.
    We need the mk41 vl system so these vessels can become true multirole warships. Otherwise agree with paceman, these vessels are an expensive missed opportunity and fall short of what are labelled as destroyers in other peer nations, South Korea, Japan, America, Norway, Spain, Australia all have modern combatants with mk41 VL system. Lets get this done.

  6. Public sector bodies seem to be incapable of defining their needs accurately; determining a coherent and agreed scope and sticking to it. Moreover, they always seem a little perturbed when the contractor bills them for enormous sums after they ask for a scope change a few weeks in to procurement.

    No one should be allowed to work in government until they’ve spent a good few years in the private sector. Only when they realise what the consequences are of their incompetency, lack of engagement or belligerency will we start to see failures like this prevented.

  7. At 13Bn/yr, just two weeks of the Foreign Aid budget would be more than enough to correct the Type 45 propulsion issues AND fit Mk41 VLS to all six destroyers – and maybe even CEC too.

    How can Foreign Aid be ring-fenced at such an astronomically high figure, whilst the defence of the country is in such perilous state? To be fair, there is criticism to be leveled at the MoD on how the budget is spent but after SDSR 2010 and the very quiet movement of the CASD into the defence budget, Whitehall is much to blame too!

    There is something seriously wrong with this picture…..

    • David, you are absolutely right. It’s a great shame our leading politicians do not listen to the people, especially on the subjects of immigration, Brexit, and Foreign Aid. All of the leading politicians think they know better than the uneducated masses. This is no longer true, but the absence of long hours in debating chambers, the lack of being able to speak at length and say nothing really does handicap members of the public when such subjects are given an airing.

  8. It’s all budgets. The T45 was cut from 12 to 8 to 6 as it is. If the higher spec generator had been included before main gate, it would probably have been cut to 5 or even cancelled completely.

    The way it works is, get the damned things built within whatever the budget is, and then find money to fix them afterwards.

  9. Unbelievable. So when someone captured the functional requirements for the propulsion system for these ships they did not think to include “must be able to operate in the Far East and other very very hot zones?” Any fool can google the weather/temperatures around the world and make sure this is included. Very wasteful use of tax payer money – heads should roll.

  10. Why cut into the hull for the new generator and not put it up top behind the funnel? If its a case of top weight then remove both 20mm CIWS and put a 40mm CTA Sea Guardian above the hangar. The project would probably be about the same cost and we’d gain 12 Phalanx units. Just an idea.

  11. At the same time. Come on Mr Bell. Your talking about innovative thinking here. A 12 or 16 tube VLS and we’d have something akin to a cruiser on our hands.

  12. Exactly Geoff! We would be maximising the potential of the type 45 hull form and providing some much needed firepower to the RN surface fleet. Not sure about a cruiser but it would make the type 45 design comparable to ships in Australia, Norway, Spain, Japan etc etc

  13. You can easily find the ASME report online as to the intercooler defects. The WR-21 was a US/UK/France project. Possibly it went ahead with the prospect of selling RR engines ti the USN.

  14. “the Royal Navy has been able to deploy the Type 45 fleet in 9 month cycles with no real issues cropping up.”

    Apart from the need to insert wooden wedges into deck hatches etc. to stop them rattling. And as for:

    “Ron5 October 13, 2017 at 17:20
    Don’t forget the most potent land attack are the carriers with their F-35’s.”

    – ROFL

  15. Wouldn’t be more cost effective to build new type 45’s (12) with enhanced diesel generation and add a vertical launch system as well?

  16. Dan I would love it if the MOD got serious about the perilous state of the RN and built adequate numbers of type 26 and a new batch of type 45s. Never going to happen, until we loose a conflict and there is a public outcry.
    I would just settle for 6 type 45s refitted with new diesel generators and a mk41 strike length vl system.
    we are going to order mk41 vl for type 26?? I notice that seems to be quietly shelved under current confirmed design. Another case of “fitted for but not with”?

  17. The GT on a T45 is working fine. There are no issues with the RR made WR21.
    The issues have been with the Northrop Grumman manufactured cores which are part of the recuperating system.
    The cores have been modded and are a lot more reliable than they have been. In addition changes to system software and operating procedures have greatly improved things.
    The new DGs will mean that there will be extra resilience in the system and the ship can operate on the DGs alone without the WR21s being on line. T45s can do this at present but the current DGs do not have enough power to provide max propulsion and fight the ship to its maximum capacity at the same time. The T45 was never designed to operate that wayon DGs anyway .
    So you need to cut holes in a ship. Its not a big deal.
    Its actually the easiest way to get big equipment in and out if you don’t have a dedicated shipping route. It happens on Naval and Commercial Ships all the time. You cut the hole …put the equipment in , weld up the hole, NDT it and put new paint on it. Done.
    The difficult bit is getting all the new electronics,monitoring systems, pipework, fuel system pumps, fire fighting arrangements, documentation and maintenance routines in place.

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