The £6bn fleet of Portsmouth-based guided-missile destroyers have been plagued by engine issues since they were launched, with ships in the class now undergoing a power improvement project (PIP).
Announced in 2018, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it is intended to ‘provide a robust solution to the power and propulsion issues observed in Type 45’.
The defence select committee warned in December 2021 that the ‘low availability of the UK’s Type 45 destroyers and recognised issues in their propulsion systems are a major cause for concern’.
HMS Dragon was pictured entering Portsmouth on Monday morning, joining HMS Defender, Diamond, and Duncan alongside. HMS Dauntless and Daring are docked in Birkenhead, receiving modification as part of the PIP.
It is understood that HMS Defender and Diamond are ‘at notice to sail’, but remain alongside.
Tom Sharpe, a former Royal Navy Commander, said availability is ‘unlikely to improve any time soon’.
‘This is about alliances versus redundancy,’ he told PA new agency. ‘On the one hand, that we have allies we can plan with and then call on to prove surface-to-air coverage is good. On the other hand, that our fleet is now stretched so thin that a major set piece deployment such as CSG21 (carrier strike group 21) reduces subsequent availability to zero, is clearly bad.
‘It’s also unlikely to improve any time soon, despite pledges to increase spending and hull numbers. Playing tunes on what constitutes availability, or worse, resorting to ‘if there is a war, we could surge’ doesn’t ameliorate just how taut things are and how hard the Navy is being made to work to manage it.’
Vice Admiral Sir Chris Gardner told the defence select committee in November 2021 that all six ships would have their defects repaired by 2028.
He also confirmed that HMS Diamond, while deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth in July 2021, suffered ‘a failure of one of her gas turbines…and we had to replace it’.
The MoD has been contacted for comment..