The T45: Awaiting rescue
And so the lights went out, plunging all into darkness, leaving the modern, capable, western warship floating at the mercy of the sea.
You might be forgiven for thinking that you’ve just read a description of the increasingly troubled US Littoral Combat Ship programme, but that would be a mistake. Rather, the world has finally been told the reason why the UK Royal Navy’s £1 billion Type 45 AAW destroyers keep breaking down.
That’s £1 billion apiece, a figure banded around with much enthusiasm by manufacturer and operator as though expense was the mark of quality. To regular Quill or Capturians, you might remember this piece detailing that other nations create entire navies out of a cool billion GBPs, while others apparently end up with a ship no more reliable than a ’72 MGB.
So, in order to rectify this slight problem of the ships breaking down, it is thought that an extra generator or ten will have to be installed inside the hull. Anyone with a basic understanding of the intricate jigsaw that is created during the design process knows that adding extra systems takes space and weight, critical factors for warships.
It’s going to be a lengthy process which will begin by the end of this decade, the second that each vessel will undergo since Daring was commissioned in 2009.
The current scheduled maintenance, one that boat four (Dragon) will emerge from later this year as boat five (Defender) takes its place, will add communications upgrades, among other work. Each T45 will spend around a year in dock during this time.
Additionally, the UK Ministry of Defence stated to this writer recently that they could find no spare Harpoon launchers down the back of the sofa and that HMS’ Defender and Dauntless will just have to go without.
Four other vessels in class, Daring, Diamond, Duncan and Dragon, have been or will be fitted with the missile system taken from the decommissioned T22s during the aforementioned maintenance.
Last year this writer learned that high temperatures in the Arabian Sea and Gulf region had contributed to early engine problems for the T45s, resulting in earlier than planned overhauls in a bid to correct the problem.