The Ministry of Defence has announced a £160 million contract with BAE Systems to improve the power and propulsion system fitted to the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers.
The MOD says its ‘Power Improvement Project (PIP)’ will enhance the “resilience” of the Type 45 class by “installing additional power generation sources in each ship”.
Being delivered as a major conversion project, the PIP will replace each ship’s two existing generators with three larger units capable of delivering propulsion.
The first of class conversion is expected to complete in 2021, 12 years after the first Type 45 was commissioned in 2009.
It is part of Project Napier which was set up in 2014 to address the continuing problems with the Type 45s.
According to the MoD, Project Napier has two strands:
- Equipment Improvement Plan (EIP) which will address system reliability to meet the original design intent in the near term; and
- Power Improvement Plan/Project (PIP) which will improve system resilience by adding upgraded diesel generators to provide the electrical generation capacity.
The PIP should also resolve the problem of the engine “degrading catastrophically” in hot weather conditions. A problem that First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones described to the House of Commons Defence Committee in July 2016.
A parliament document titled ‘Restoring the Fleet: Naval Procurement and the National Shipbuilding Strategy’ published in November 2016 described the fleets faults:
"The Type 45 has had a long history of significant engine failures.
"The MoD’s Power Improvement Plan is designed to rectify these problems and put an end to the reliability issues which continue to limit the availability and dependability of the Type 45."
'A Long History Of Significant Engine Failures'
In 2015, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the propulsion system of the £1 billion warships was malfunctioning.
Four months ago, HMS Diamond was forced to return to Portsmouth after encountering "technical issues".
It meant that all six of the Type 45 ships were in Portsmouth, after experiencing a range of issues, or are awaiting deployment.
In 2016, responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the MoD confirmed the six Type-45 destroyers had spent a combined 1,515 days in UK ports for the year starting April 2015.
Four of the ships spent more than 300 days in British ports.
A navy spokesman said at the time that the figures did not show that the ships were sitting idle.
He said they could be carrying out active duties while based overnight at Portsmouth and other UK bases such as Plymouth.
The contract has been awarded to BAE Systems, in collaboration with BMT Defence services and Cammell Laird.
Director Ships Support at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, Neal Lawson said:
“This contract demonstrates our ability to collaborate effectively with industry and I am extremely pleased with how the team at DE&S have worked rapidly to meet requirements.
“The PIP will ensure the fleet of highly sophisticated Type 45s can continue to be deployed successfully on operations around the globe, protecting the UK’s interests worldwide.”
The physical conversion work will be conducted at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead, Merseyside, sustaining more than 100 jobs.