Admiral Lord Alan West has blasted the so-called ‘power improvement project’ (PIP) to upgrade the dodgy engines of the Type 45 destroyers as it was revealed it wouldn’t be completed for another six years.
The vessels are touted as one of the world’s most advanced warships by the navy. But they have been plagued by engine woes, which have seen them breaking down in the hot waters of the Gulf.
All six of the fleet of Portsmouth-based warships will need to undergo work to fix the embarrassing design flaws.
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It had been hoped the upgrade programme would be completed by the mid 2020s. However, during a debate at the House of Lords this week, defence minister Baroness Annabel Goldie admitted it will take until 2028 before all the vessels are operational again.
Speaking during the debate, Lord West said: ‘The PIP has been an absolute disaster. We knew in 2009 that there was a problem with our destroyers — we only have six of them.
‘It took three years to work out how to resolve it — to 2012. It took another two years to say, “We will find some money within the programme to do this”.
‘The first [Type 45] went in for work in 2020, that was the Dauntless in May, and we were told she would be out by early 2021. Dauntless has still not rejoined the fleet.
‘[HMS] Daring is about to go in and have this done. One has very severe doubts about when this will be completed.
‘My real concern is that when you go to war, you have to fight with what you have, and it seems to me that when you have only six destroyers, if they are not working properly, you should be pushing as hard and fast as possible to do it.’
Baroness Goldie insisted the navy was ‘in very good shape’ and said there was ‘every determination’ to fix the ships.
‘It is important to say that these destroyers are hugely capable ships, they are universally admired across the world, and all naval operational requirements at home and abroad continue to be fulfilled,’ she added.
But speaking to The News following the debate, Lord West said: ‘It’s appalling that this programme has taken so long. It’s a bloody disgrace.’
HMS Dauntless is set to return to sea this year for trials, with HMS Daring currently at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.
Last month all six destroyers were alongside in port. HMS Diamond departed the city today following ‘minor repairs’ which delayed her departure by a week.
Last summer the ship was left stranded at an Italian port after her engine broke while she was deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Parts had to be shipped out before she could return to duty with the aircraft carrier.
The Ministry of Defence said engine upgrade programme was a complex engineering project and that it had been hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The MoD added all six Type 45 will have received their upgrades by 2028.