Former Royal Navy officer brands Britain's number of operational warships a 'major embarrassment' as Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring prepares to leave Portsmouth
A BILLION pound Royal Navy destroyer is preparing for a major engine refit more than four years since her last operational mission.
HMS Daring is set to finally depart Portsmouth Naval Base after having had a major series of upgrades to her living quarters, communications, radar and weapons system.
The work comes amid claims from a veteran officer that the number of working warships available to the UK was a ‘major embarrassment’.
The next phase of the destroyer’s upgrades will see her sail to Birkenhead, near Liverpool, where she will become the second Type 45 to undergo a multi-million pound replacement of its power and propulsion system, which have previously broken down.
The news comes after Daring’s sister ship, HMS Diamond, suffered a serious mechanical issue with its engine, which forced the vessel to temporarily abandon its deployment with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The warship and its 280-strong crew were left stranded for weeks while replacement parts were delivered. She returned to sea days ago and is on her way to reunite with the UK’s carrier strike group.
Diamond’s breakdown is the latest in a series of embarrassing engine failures to have blighted the Type 45 destroyers since they were launched, which prompted the costly power and propulsion improvement plan.
Now a veteran officer has raised his concerns about the fleet. Retired Lieutenant Commander and defence expert from Gosport, Mike Critchley said: ‘The Ministry of Defence continue to call the Type 45 a “world class” destroyer but their past history and many months, if not years, out of operational service for some of the class make this hard to stomach.
‘The number of truly operational destroyers and frigates is a major embarrassment to Her Majesty’s government. With commitments around the world frequently “gapped” for a lack of a suitable ship.
‘MoD press releases and senior officers’ statements continue to promise “jam tomorrow” whilst the operational fleet today is tiny and a major scandal for an island nation – with commitments worldwide it is frequently unable to fulfill.’
HMS Dragon is currently alongside in Portsmouth and is due to return to sea shortly, a spokesman for the MoD told The News.
HMS Duncan is undergoing a period of planned deep maintenance while HMS Dauntless – which had been used as a training ship for months – remains in the initial phase of installation of the power improvement programme.
The next phase of the upgrade will see Dauntless undertake a ‘rigorous trials programme in harbour and subsequently at sea’, the MoD said.
A spokesman for the MoD’s Defence, Equipment and Support wing added: ‘The Type 45 is a world class destroyer and continues to play a key role in the Royal Navy’s carrier strike capability, making an enormous contribution to the defence of the UK and our international partners, who hold it in the highest regard.
‘All Royal Navy ships rotate through planned operating cycles involving routine maintenance, repair, training, deployment, leave, essential modification and upgrades and will, therefore, be at varying levels of readiness in accordance with defence requirements.’
It is planned that all six Type 45 ships will have received the power improvement project upgrade by the mid-2020s