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As someone involved in commercial shipbuilding, it beggars belief that neither the Ship builder nor the Engine Manufacturer is being held to account for this. Why no mention of what is being done to fix the design flaw on the intercooler? Surely jumping straight to fitment of larger generators is merely treating the symptom and not addressing the cause?
I guess if you put all your eggs in one basket (BAE) you’ve only yourself to blame when the whole batch goes off at once! And yet just yesterday I read of BAE witnessing the main engine FAT for the first MT30 for the T26 program. Isn’t that a bit like the fox guarding the hen house? Why is no-one from the MOD overseeing this vital bit of QA?


I think you’ll find the MoD are involved at every stage of the T26 programme.


Speaking from personal experience on satellite power with the RAE; government establishments do not take kindly to contractors pointing to weakesses in ‘their’ designs and will not hesitate to complain about ‘bad’ and ‘non – cooperative’ behaviour.
A favourite trick is to ‘cut costs’ by eliminating development testing – sounds to me this is what happened with the Type 45.


except the common sense stage


I think it is unbelievable that BAE and the engine manufacturer are not being made to shoulder at least some of the cost of making good. Also hard to understand, is the causal attitude of the RN of getting this problem sorted out. Newspaper reports of not starting to do the repairs until 2019/20, Surely these repairs should be started much sooner, just seems NO urgency.

Cowban Palmer

I read that an MP applied undue pressure to allow work to take place in his constituency.
If that is the case, shouldn’t action be taken against him?
Or are MPs immune from accountability?

Paul Compton

It doesn’t appear that the location of the build had anything to do with it.

MP’s are always ‘applying pressure’ to get stuff done in their electorate; it’s pretty much their job description isn’t it?


There’s no urgency because there isn’t currently a war on, therefore they’re a lower priority than other things the government has to pay for.
Because at the end of the day it’s just a cost issue as the MOD doesn’t have an infinite pot of money, and most of what they are allocated has to go to prior comitments (like the wages for servicemen & women and other procurement contracts that are already signed and would cost extra money to delay or cancel).
I’d rather they do the work in a cost-effective manner, so that funding isn’t taken away from other projects which will then likely have issues further down the line because of cost-cutting, even if that means that the availibility is reduced in the mean time.


Almost total reliance on sourcing supplies from one major outfit is asking for trouble now and in the future. In Future the principal brains behind any Naval project are likely to have trained up at BAE, thus most committee men or women will all spring from the same batch. Not good. When you have a committee always best to incorporate some of the awkward squad. This is how democracy succeeds and most other forms of government don’t.
Group think usually proves disastrous in the longer term. It would be interesting to review the minutes of the project and see if anyone and at what stage doubts were raised on type 45 power package.
Will parliamentary defence committee investigate? They should same things happened with Astute SSN propulsion system.
Not Good.

Excellent analysis of the issue and once again a prime example of procurement gone wrong. Why won’t the suppliers be held responsible for some of this. In the ‘real’ commercial world where I worked after leaving the RN, you would not be allowed to get away with this.
Especially liked your last paragraph which sums up so much about the current difficulty in finding good technical people to fill these type of jobs. It’s not all about ‘Meedya’ and Entertainment!!


It is a shame that this is happening in the first place. I am aware this would probably not happen, but it would make scene to fit the MK 41 VLS at the same time as the engine fix as it would reduce time spent in dry dock, reducing the capability gap of an already overstretched force


Blaming government for a lack of strategic planning is a weak excuse to cover up the short comings of an mod largely populated by ex service personnel who carried inter service rivalry into business planning and procurement inside government. Optimism bias would be a polite way to describe the underestimation of project costs in order to get commitments made to services preferred equipment buys. Hopefully that slate is getting wiped clean, but when commercial bidders are asked to agree to unrealistic proposals they will only do so where they know claims and overruns will return them to profit – which is why they are not held accountable. If procurement practice is based in realistic cost management, you will get better contractual accountability.
In this instance it’s not really a big problem, it can be fixed, we will end up with a great platform. Yes, it will cost tens of millions, but perhaps t45 will benefit by having a general power surplus with baseline redundancy – solid state laser or rail gun perhaps?


The normal way of dealing with this sort of problem in the power industry is automatic load shedding. The computers controlling he power system (and there are bound to be computers) are programmed to automatically shed load to keep essentials within the power available. Maybe you would be down to cruise speed, lighting, ventilation and the nav radar but that is better than going to black. Too hard for he military?


Automatic load shedding already does occur. The systems are actually pretty good, but when your order lyrics running engine trips, load shedding doesn’t help. The diesel engines do auto start, and as a rule are very good, just under powered for propulsion, because they were never designed with that in mind. The GTs main problem is with the recuperator, not the intercooler. Once the recuperator starts to degrade, the engine become much harder to keep going and very hard to start!
BAE are a cancer in the defence industry, and I have no love for them after 4 years of living with there ‘service’. One of the reasons for the huge outflow of engineers is the t45. A lot who have been on them leave, and the worst go on to work for BAE!


Order lyrics = only running (autocorrect)

Justin Lee

This what happens when you merge so many companies together and remove a competitive market place. It’s also what happens when you allow civil servants, rather than military personnel, to run their departments. The Civil Service I feel is more intent on building and maintaining their own little empires than they are in actually serving the country and conducting a cohesive effort to get things done. Some things don’t change. I think we should eliminate the MOD and go back to how it used to be. The Admiralty for the Royal navy, Horse Guards for the Army and the Air Ministry for the Royal Air Force. Three separate services, with three separate budgets. It worried when Army and Air Force personnel were involved in the design of the T45. The defense procurement committees are so overgrown and over populated that it’s no wonder things are not done properly.

Dave s

The civil service is an abomination run by graduates with firsts in Medieval History, Ancient Greek and the rest of the obscure degrees churned out from Oxbridge. Our very successful rocket programme was destroyed by a civil servant who to quote” could not see the need to launch more that one or two satellites a year” so destroying our technical lead over the Russians and Americans. I very much doubt that a civil servant with a brilliant science or engineering degree would get an interview or be allowed to even take the civil service exam


And we are publicising the machinery and layouts on the Internet? Real clever!

Hobby Hunter

IM SURE it on the sales brochure s ba e and janes navy

Allan Bridge

I wonder as a temporary fix would it be a better idea to install a Info lithium type battery bay as a kick in supply when the overload happens with cut out or feed the generators direct to the Battery housing as chargers to keep the power flow going o,k it may mean adding extra power boxes to weapons and radar systems to make them independent from less failure,Then make the G,Ts independent so not under as much stress to just propulsion ship units for speed and agility, Just an idea that may help,


As Scott says. Why not fix the problem with the intercooler rather than replace engine’s. Smells to me like a major shortfall in specification regards the engine/alternator power output. Why run all systems in this manner? Surely it would be prudent to have radar and weapons system on a separate supply, and even god forbid a basis old Black start Diesel Generator or smaller GT as a last ditched back up.

David Stephen

This is a disgraceful situation which BAE should be helping to rectify (financially). They should be made to cover the full cost of the engine upgrades or else the light frigate programme will be given to Ferguson or Swan Hunter. The money earmarked for the repairs can then be used to fit MK 41 VLS and CEC.


You are right about the ‘celeb’ culture taking over from engineering and industry. If you are having issues with the Type 45 how are you going to cope with the far more complex engineering required for the Trident successor program? Its more complicated than the tech that took man to the moon.

David Daniel

It seems yet more taxpayers money, will find its way to The Establishments offshore bank accounts then. ….still nothing new in British Politics. .


Hi David. It’s us the ‘Tax Payers’ who have to foot the bill, IMO both BAE and MOD are too close to each other, I often wonder how many employees form both sides are ‘EX-Service Personnel’ history has shown when a contract has been agreed between these two, the cost or delivery time is nearly always never met, you scratch my back..and..I’ll scratch your back come to mind.


IMO..Both BAE and the MOD decision makers ( I wonder how many of these employees, on both sides were EX-Service personnel) are far too close to each other, how on earth can those from the MOD agree such contracts, when history shows these contracts always fail to deliver on b both ..’Cost and/or Time’..why am I as a ‘Tax Payer’ thinking could we have a FIFA situation on our hands.


To be fair BAE (don’t get me wrong they generally do have a lot to answer for!) did recommend both engines, it was a political decision to buy British. Even the Americans looked at the WR21 and saw some merit but discounted it on the basis of cost and complexity (they were right as it turns out!). We will never get value for money buying British but no politician will ever sanction a substantial order that would cost British jobs.


Some years ago, American scientists and engineers created the world’s narrowest tube, The Brits’ were sent an example – they made one of their own and shipped it to the states – inside the American tube. My point? Cynical retort at British engineering capabilities seems to be a modern trend – especially among the younger generation, who are led to believe all things British is bottom drawer stuff! Think again! What Britain is suffering from today is a lack of direction and the self-confidence that goes with it! The German and Japanese economic miracles of the 1960’s onwards were driven by those two principles. Another factor was, neither the German or Japanese governments interfered with their nation’s commercial giants’ business plans or ethics – allowing them to get on with the job. British Governance relies on bossy boot committees and quangos – all destined to log jam any sound military, or commercial, proposals, and, footing the tax payer for their many mistakes. BAEs is a business – there to make money, not to be the British Government’s lackey. If that is what the government desired, then it should have kept a controlling interest in the company when it denationalised. The F35B fiasco should be at the British Governments feet – pussyfooting around, changing their minds, crying out hard up fools no one – only displays the lack of understanding the politicians have of all things military and true commitment to supplying the necessary inventory for our armed forces. If our servicemen screwed up as many tasks as our politicians do, then all I can advise – is pack our bags and take our chances living on Mars.


On the plus side as mentioned in the article the MOD is slowly (post T45, Astute and QE) realising (fast learners!) that BAE can’t deliver complex projects on time or anywhere near budget. The main reason we keep getting OPV orders rather than firm dates for T26 is because there is deep unease that BAE will be able to actually deliver! Not that there’s much alternative while it is a political aim that major warships will be built in the uk (in small numbers, infrequently with no commercial or overseas orders). The result? The last sailors that will have to serve on a T23 haven’t even been born yet! Frightening!


lets buy some Arleigh Burkes instead then…


The problem is perception and lack of understanding about military procurement.
Modern warships are just expensive, it’s as simple as that. The basic hull is about the cheapest part, but everything that goes into it that makes it a warship, the weapons, sensors, high power propulsion etc. are all expensive to design and manufacture, and their cost goes up with the complexity of ships. For instance modern ships are practically floating missile batteries, each one of which is practically its own unmanned aircraft.
But politicians (the people who eventually decide the budget) get where they are by their skill at persuading people, not for their subject knowledge in any useful area, and who usually have no more technical knowledge than how to change a light bulb, as well as the majority of taxpayers, have no idea what goes into a warship, and when they see that man zero’s on the end of the price tag, they object.
This is understanable because the best weapons are never used, because 99% of their job is deterance, it’s very hard for most people who work in an office or a shop, or parliament (especially in the oposition party) to see how that money is benefitting them when there are other underfunded services like the NHS and schools (that are closer to home for most people and generally more sympathetic subjects) that could also use the extra cash.
So what ends up happening is the government and MOD haggle contractors down to an unrealisticly low number to make it easier to publicly defend so they can actually get the funding to make the aquisition through parliment. This is demonstrated in whenever the media or politicians talk about some new procurement item (and it’s always terrible), they ALWAYS cite the cost of the ships eg. “these £1 billion destroyers keep braking down” or even “crewmen from the £3 billion carrier got arrested in Florida” (because apparently the cost relevent to discipline) etc.
Meanwhile critisizing the capability of our armed forces when compared to nations who spend far more on their equipment than we do, because in their minds £1 billion is more money than it could possibly cost.
Then because the government demand so much from these vessels, the budget is stretched so tight, with no room for error or delays (which are bound to happen in any cutting-edge multi-year project), so if that happens the cost overruns. Not to mention that the inflation from 1999 when the project started is something like +80%, so it’s always going to appear worse on paper, and of course no media outlet would bother to account for that because it doesn’t make the numbers look as bad.
That is all to say, welcome to the depressing world of government budgets vs high end engineering!


Thanks all for enlightening a civy on the problems inside defence. I suspect that scrapping the MOD would be a good move.


Most if not all Mod procurement, IPT Leaders who make the big decisions do not really question the contractors ability to deliver. They are not engineers or not of the appropriate specialism. Those below them,, many ex-service and extremely knowledgeable are not always able to influence the decision making. The ‘grumpy old man’ syndrome is not appreciated! There is also too much optimism that the contractor can deliver what he says because contract negotiations are usually high up in the pecking order on both sides. There is a shortage of engineers of all disciplines in the MoD as in industry especially experienced ones who can ask the awkward questions. eg Why do you have to cut open the hull to remove /refit a new gen set. What happened to ease of maintenance assessment? The reliabilty data of the WR21 could not have been reliable! if it was not in service with anyone.. Even if there was some political leverage to buy the RR version the recuperator should not be failing early and needs investigating.. Unfortunately as has been stated before there is a reluctance to force the contractor to fulfil their obligations. Now the people that write the contracts are not usually the ones who understand the risks: So it depends whats in the contract.? . ..,Glad I’ve retired. . . .


With any critical electrical generating system you require two units capable of providing full load plus fault currents AND a standby in case of failure. Ideally there should be four units, two units on load, one standby and one extra for use when a unit is down for maintenance. I was also surprised during the BBC report that all systems failed when the generators went down. Normally essential computer systems have uninterrupted power supply back up (batteries) that provide power for 15 minutes or so when the main supply fails. As there are only two generators on the type 45, procedures should be in place to load shed if one unit fails or is damaged during combat. Perhaps both units feed onto a common bus system so that failure of one automatically trips the other unit due to overload? Better to have two segregated bus systems with ability to bus couple in an emergency, after first load shedding.


Absolutely, take any modern offshore DP vessel for example. Open bus with loads of redundancy. Some of them still do blackout but critical systems have independent sources and recovery is fast!

Ronald Lockley

Please help my ignorance, If I have placed a Request for Procurement/Proposal RFP with the technical specifications that I require and a company places an offer to the purchaser their guarantees to fulfill the technical requirements, delivery schedules and price then why do we the tax payer need to pay for cost over runs, defective equipment, late delivery etc.
I know from my experience as a project manager in telecommunications for an international operator that my RFP’s used to be hundreds of pages with specifications and requirements and penalties for late delivery or incorrect equipment, does our MoD not work in the same way?


Some ex service personnel probably get into positions of responsibility for project teams etc but as they will have already served 22 years plus in the services most of the big decision makers will have entered the MoD procurement system and worked their way up. I suspect this will be similar with the contractor. I don’t think this is the big issue which some respondents have claimed.
Some years ago the MoD procurement and support were 2 separate organisations DPA and DLO. Procurement and logistics. I don’t think the structural problems inherent in each were ever sorted, they were just merged. eg Each project team at the end of a project has to produce an LFE report. (Learning From Experience.) Guess who writes the report: the team itself! And what happens to the expertise within the team: they move onto other projects which could easily be unrelated. The in service support element continues but the knowledge and expertise of the known problems and the desire to hold the company to the contract, simply dissolves. It is not the main priority of the support plan. This is not just a Navy problem.
Either the contracts were not written properly or there is no desire to enforce them.
We need an external organisation to monitor the MoDs work. Is that the Treasury?


Is there any fact in the rumours that the RN has had to be supprted by secondment of US coastgaurd marine engineers?

Stephen Davies

Attempting to put a positive spin on the powerplant issues of the Type 45… better to find out about power-out issues now than during a possible future military action. Reminds me a little of the Falklands when the Type 22 HMS Broadsword had computer system malfunction that prevented it’s Sea Wolf SAM system from launching for a critical (and for HMS Coventry, a fatal) minute.
With regard to the MOD, the only thing it seems to be consistent in is a serial failure to deliver projects, regardless of whether they be for land, sea or air, on time and on budget… The fact that what remnants of our proud ship building industry now belongs to BAE should not mean that we don’t have a choice as to where future orders go…there’s ALWAYS a choice! If BAE want the business, the MOD (aka known as the British taxpayer) need to put in some cast iron assurances, cost protections and delay penalties to ensure we get value for money. That’s what happens in the private sector and long term, it would benefit BAE by making them more commercially aware. You never know, they might even be able to export, thus achieving economy of scale.

John Carlin

There appears to be something wrong with our ships today!

Ned Land

Can WR21 be exchanged up through the uptake?

Peter Glenn.

i do not think anyone is surprised at this story, based on what we already know.
Navy farce: Britain’s new £6billion fleet of Type 45 destroyers spend more than TWICE as much time berthed in UK ports than ‘out and doing their job’.

William Gibbons

Britain aerospace buys up everything and ends up the same as British Leyland .
No innovation , crap goods , no competition a d effectively badge engineeing by committee.
Usually consisting of no one who has any experience of ships .
This nation heads for the third world fast .
Can they not use the same hulls for the frigates as the destroyers ? Save a bit in costs .
And the great big empty space ,mission bay . Is that not just a good word for hole .
The RN is starved if funds , I get that , but BAe is taking the piss , I get that too .
Oh and why no electromagnetic launchers on the carriers.
Or rail guns .
Or a cheap alternative to the f35 .
Harrier perhaps ?? Just to fill the gaps ?
Oh I forgot call me Dave I’ll have a bash sorted that one .

andy reeves

if the u.s. marine corps is still happy to use the harrier in a front line roll why did we sell 72 of them to the u.s for less than the cost of two f35b’s keeping the harrier for the r.a.f and r.n would have left lots of £ for ships and aircraft from the tuscon ‘boneyard (google it)cancel one f35 and you’ve the money for cat’s and trap’s on the q.e and p.o.w, and buy the hornet f 18 or rafale/gripen

Carl Edward Shotton

Hi read your report with interest and agree with idea of a spare generator,is there also no way can you use solar panels on parts of ship to take pressure away from generators the the event of war or camouflage theses panels could simply turn round as not to be seen.i spotted one of ships coming into Portsmouth yesterday.


i am delighted to report that zumwalt the americans attempt to upsurp the R.N type 45 has broken down in the middle of the panama canal with, yes you guessed it, propulsion problems lol!


the new destroyer zumwalt has broken down twice, including blocking the panama canal, due to propulsion problems, so the type 45 is not a unique story


it would appear that the 45’s are not fitted with the railway system for the removal of engines through the funnell, as per thetype 42.a main engine gas turbine change i was involvedi in was on the birmingham. it took under 24 hours

Clive Taylor

What comes over strongly in these discussions is twofold .
The successful American system of leaving virtually all design work to independent commercial companies only works when there are several competing firms . Not in the UK where there is monopoly.
We should never have abandoned the old Royal Corp of Naval Constructors. I noticed many design criteria abandoned by BAE in the type 45 program, significantly the conservative adage “never incorporate more than 25% innovation into a new ship ”
Astute, Daring, and probably Queen Elizabeth 2 are good examples of the wisdom of the old, albeit rather over- conservative, approach. The RN now have virtually no in-house expertise to guide the through the minefields of commercial interests.


In the 21st century that there is such incompetence and penny pinching with vital naval assets is staggering..Northrop Grumman’s intercooler disasters on the Type 45, submarine commanders I assume whom have undergone the much vaunted Thresher training, crashing their submarines, the Falklands and the seizure of HMS Cornwall personal by Iran has made the Royal Navy a laughing stock over the past 40 years. Failure after failure.

Bill Buchanan

The problems are already occurring in the T26 where long standing suppliers to the navy have gone to the wall whilst waiting for the MOD to extract the digit and place the contracts. Galley equipment being just one case. We also have the case where cabins which were originally being made on-site, went out to tender and were accepted as being made in modular form. Guess what the MOD now want them made onsite.

Bill Buchanan

The main problem lies with the system management. CONVER Team just took the pics.

Bill Buchanan

Sorry urine.


It’s a national scandal Bae was allowed to take over Vickers, a monopoly which Britain is paying dearly for. Production of the M777 seems to be almost all in America costing many British jobs .If you read about this world beating howitzer you wouldn’t guess it was a British design and originally made here.(Vickers) Bae doesn’t seem to have a weapons design capability instead buying up companies and products.(Bofors etc).Bae has had some dubious characters on its board ,one a notorious asset stripper who screwed a good company I worked for and caused many highly skilled engineers to leave.

Des K

I think that you will find that the first all gas turbine major warship was in fact the converted HMS EXMOUTH. She was converted 69-70 and fitted with a Marine Olympus and Proteus Gas Turbines.
A great little ship, on which I served 71-72.


I am very skeptical about the Type 45 program. They are extremely expensive and there is little chance of exporting them. Which means the navy is paying he cost of keeping UK shipyards going to produce a very limited number of orders.
I am not involved with the military, but the ship seems to have a massive flaw. At 1 billion pounds, it is a very expensive tempting target for any opponent. So say I want to damage or sink a Type 45 and have limited means.
The Type 45 carries 45 aster missiles, so what is to stop me using a saturation attack to simply use up the ships ammo. Get 100 relatively inexpensive drones, strap explosives to them, fly them at the ship and force the ship to use up its missiles and point defence systems on the drones. Then fire a couple of expensive sea skimmers at the ship?
Since the navy is only likely to have two escorts for the carriers available, I doubt that the the Type 45’s can defend themselves, let alone the carriers. Assuming the electrical system doesn’t fail at the critical time. The fix sounds like a bodge.
Wouldn’t it have been better to break BAE systems monopoly by buying a larger number of cheaper American ships and have British shipyards concentrate on designing and building a cheaper frigate that we could actually sell to other countries?

Rees Marshall

I worked on the T45 Project in Glasgow and from memory it was the MoD who mandated the WR21 and had been trying to fit the engines on a platform for some years. I may be wrong, but I don’t think it was BAE System’s fault and there was much talk of the Intercoolers being a huge Risk!
This may well explain why the Shipyard has not accepted responsibility!

david cooke

It all boils down to underinvestment in British manufacturing skills, less sport which is drug-related and lots of cheating and let’s train the youngsters the same way we used to do with 5-year apprenticeships instead of 3-day coffee making apprenticeships what a disaster we do have the people but we choose to stare at mobile phones all day and night playing stupid computer games instead of leading the world in every aspect of high tech industries such as industrial robotics the UK government fell asleep 40 years ago so now everything me and you buy is made in China and ends up in a bin after it breaks in a couple of weeks