HMS Dragon Type 45 Destroyer Royal Navy

Type 45 destroyer availability improving

Poor availability of the Type 45 destroyers has been a source of frustration for the navy and attracted plenty of negative, and often ill-informed media coverage over the last decade. Measures to remedy the complex issues have been on-going for several years and there are now real signs of progress. The Defence Secretary has announced that from 2021, four of the six ships will be available for tasking and the varying levels of readiness will continue to improve.

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HMS Defender

HMS Defender returns to the fleet fitted for intelligence gathering

Last week HMS Defender was accepted back into the fleet by Commodore Wood, Commander of the Portsmouth Flotilla after successful completion of post-refit sea trials. HMS Defender deployed to the Gulf for nine months in 2015 after which, she entered an 18-month major refit in Portsmouth conducted by BAE Systems.

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Final cure for Type 45 destroyer propulsion problems announced

In a modest ceremony held on board HMS Diamond in Portsmouth today, BAE Systems, BMT Defence Services and Cammell Laird signed a contract with the MoD to deliver the Type 45 Power Improvement Project (PIP). Significant propulsion problems have hampered the operation of the six destroyers since their construction and it is encouraging that a permanent cure has now been agreed upon.

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HMS Diamond

Type 45 Destroyer issues continue – HMS Diamond breaks down on Gulf deployment

Today the Times correctly reported that HMS Diamond has had to abort her Gulf deployment and return to home for repairs. The defect concerns the propellor but is not directly related to the engine issues that have been the primary cause of Type 45 destroyer woes. Unfortunately,  the problem cannot be rectified by dry docking in Bahrain or Gibraltar and requires the attention of specialists in Portsmouth.

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Type 45 Destroyer Gas turbine engine problems

Putting the Type 45 propulsion problems in perspective

Amongst informed defence commentators it has been an open secret for several years, but on 29th January a BBC report finally put the engine problems of the Type 45 destroyers into the public eye. The MoD has consistently played down the seriousness of the issue, that had on occasions resulted in total propulsion and electrical failure, leaving ships dead in the water. Even Parliamentary questions were met with vague assurances that “progress was being made”. The media coverage has since been predictably excessive, giving the unfortunate impression that Type 45s are £1Billion cripples. Although these breakdowns have hampered their operation, all the Type 45s have completed major deployments and HMS Defender is currently on a 9-month Gulf and Indian Ocean deployment.

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