Admiral upbeat despite  ‘operational defects’ in Navy’s £6bn destroyer  fleet

HMS Daring had 431 operational defects which needed repairing since 2016. Photo: Royal Navy
HMS Daring had 431 operational defects which needed repairing since 2016. Photo: Royal Navy
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HUNDREDS of ‘operational defects’ have been identified in Britain’s £6bn fleet of hi-tech destroyers.

In the past three years, engineers have been forced to fix 2,282 separate defects in the Type 45 fleet.

However, a former head of the Royal Navy has played down the figures and said they appeared to be the ‘normal run of things’.

All six of the state-of-the-art air defence warships are based in Portsmouth and have previously faced woes with their propulsion systems, which has seen vessels lose power while on deployment at sea.

Figures released by parliament have shown a slight increase in the number of repair jobs made on the ships since last year.

In 2017 a total of 613 maintenance jobs were tackled across the fleet. This increased to 715 so far this year.

However, in 2016, the figure reached 954, with HMS Dragon notching the most repairs over three years, with 621 jobs. HMS Daring was the second highest, with 431, while HMS Diamond recorded 407.

HMS Duncan, HMS Defender and HMS Dauntless all notched up 397, 224 and 92 repair jobs respectively.

The Ministry of Defence was unable to comment on what sort of maintenance work had been undertaken – which could range from a replacement of a light bulb to more complex work on propulsion or weapons systems.

However, Admiral Lord Alan West said he was ‘not worried’ by the figures.

The retired First Sea Lord and Labour peer said: ‘This seems like a perfectly normal run of things. I’m not worried about this.

‘Where the problem lies is when they are trying to make repairs but they don’t have enough spare parts.

‘They’re having to use parts from other ships to make the repairs. That’s where the real issue is.’

The comments come following a report by the government spending watchdog the National Audit Office which highlighted concerns over the ‘cannibalism’ of parts from warships to repair other vessels.

The NAO’s report last year discovered there had been a rise in the number of times the Royal Navy stripped parts from its vessels in order to maintain its fleet of ships and submarines.
The practice has increased 49% from 2012 to 2017 and the spending watchdog said budget cuts in the last two years could be the cause.
In January the most senior civil servant in the MoD, Stephen Lovegrove told MPs on the public accounts committee it was ‘perfectly reasonable’ to cannibalise parts to maintain ships on deployment.
Speaking about the latest report in Type 45 defects, a Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘Four Type 45 destroyers are currently at sea, they are world-leading air-defence warships using technology not previously employed in any other navy. They have proved their ability to operate across the world and their capabilities are valued by our allies.’
HMS Dragon is in the Gulf participating in exercise Saif Sareea 3, HMS Diamond is in the Mediterranean and HMS Duncan and HMS Defender are conducting trials and training.