EFFORTS to replace faulty engines in the Royal Navy’s £6bn fleet of destroyers could begin as early as this year, a boss at a top defence firm has said.
All six of the navy’s Portsmouth-based fleet Daring-class warships are to have a major overhaul to their propulsion system.
It comes after a number of well-publicised breakdowns across the air defence fleet, which have been a source of embarrassment for the Senior Service.
Now one of the top officials from BAE Systems – the firm charged with installing new, more powerful propulsion systems in the warships – has said work will begin soon.
James Davis, BAE’s strategic director of maritime services, said the £160m project was a complex and ‘pretty intrusive’ piece of work but one engineers were perfectly equipped to tackle.
He added: ‘We should be well-placed to start this work at the back-end of this year or start of next year.’
Known as the ‘power improvement project’, the overhaul would see the removal of two existing two-megawatt diesel alternators to make way for three, three-megawatt diesel alternators.
It’s hoped the new system would give the Type 45 fleet a major boost in power, helping them overcome electrical blackouts which have previously blighted the vessels.
BAE Systems is leading the scheme, supported by Cammell Laird and BMT Defences Services, after being granted the contract by the Ministry of Defence last month, beating a rival bid from Babcock.
Mr Davis, who has previously been involved in the £100m overhaul of Portsmouth Naval Base to accommodate the two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, said plenty of work had gone into the plan.
‘Whilst this is a complex programme we have been working up now for over a year, by the time we get ready to deliver it, it will be quite a set piece,’ he told The News.
‘Having signed the contract we’re starting work immediately, finalising and maturing the design.
‘Next year we will start seeing the first of the embodiment programme working through.
‘They’re about four-month programmes of actual work and then you have got test trials and commissioning again at the back-end of those programmes.’
He added the upgrade to the first ship would be completed in time to provide an operationally-ready Type 45 as part of Britain’s new carrier strike fleet.
Although the vessels are maintained and repaired in Portsmouth, the engine overhaul will be taking place in Birkenhead.
The first of class conversion is expected to be completed in 2021.