World 'must laugh at' Royal Navy's breakdown-prone Type 45 destroyers MP tells admiral
BRITAIN deserves better of the Royal Navy an MP has told an admiral as fresh details emerged over why a £1bn destroyer broke down while bodyguarding aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Portsmouth-based HMS Diamond suffered a serious problem with its propulsion system in July which left her stranded in an Italian port for weeks.
The Type 45 destroyer rejoined the UK carrier strike group, spearheaded by HMS Queen Elizabeth, later in the summer.
But last month the warship suffered a further ‘technical issue’ not related to propulsion and power systems, the British Embassy in Singapore confirmed, which again impacted its mission.
Now former defence minister Mark Francois has grilled Vice Admiral Chris Gardner over the warship’s state of repair during a session of the defence select committee at parliament.
The former minister for Portsmouth said: ‘These ships are £1bn a pop. I’m sorry, but the taxpayer deserves better than this from the Royal Navy. What happened to Diamond? What was the problem?
Responding, Vice Admiral Gardner said: ‘Diamond suffered a failure of one of her gas turbines, basically, and we had to replace it.’
‘So it was an engine problem?’ Mr Francois replied.
‘It was an engine problem,’ Vice Admiral Gardner said.
During the meeting, Mr Francois claimed he had been told by a journalist that the Ministry of Defence had ‘flat-out denied’ the ship was in port due to a technical problem with its engines.
The Type 45 warships have previously suffered several embarrassing breakdowns while in hotter waters and are currently either undergoing or scheduled to undergo multimillion pound upgrades to fix the problem.
Vice Admiral Gardner insisted he had no idea why the MoD would have said. He said: ‘It wasn’t me, and I am responsible for those ships.’
‘It was a propulsion problem,’ added Mr Francois, as he continued grilling the senior naval officer, who again confirmed to the committee that was the case.
‘Okay, well that’s cleared that one up, but even if we put two (Type 45 destroyers) to sea to defend the carrier and one breaks, in terms of deterrence they must laugh at us,’ added the Tory MP.
‘I don’t think they laugh at the capabilities of a Type 45,’ insisted Vice Admiral Gardner.
HMS Diamond is now back with the carrier strike group which is currently in the Middle East.
She is expected home in Portsmouth in a matter of weeks.