The engines on Royal Navy’s mighty Type 45 destroyers break down when they sail in waters warmer than those of the Portsmouth naval base, members of Parliament were told Tuesday by BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Northrop Grumman and General Electric executives.
MPs questioned the managers as to why the £1 billion ships which form the ‘backbone of the fleet’ kept breaking down. The response they received was that the construction specifications did not say that the ships would be conducting prolonged or repeated operations in the warm waters of the Middle East.
As it turns out, intercooler units on the gas turbines that power the ships underwent design changes which, subsequently, were not fully tested. The systems worked well in North Sea waters but failed to perform in warmer waters in the Gulf.
Once the turbines stop providing enough power to the engines, the ship’s generators experience a failure which leaves the ships drifting in the waters with no power at all.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed in January 2016 the the ships are to undergo extensive engine refits which will cost millions of pounds. Engine rooms will have to be accessed by cutting holes in the sides of the ships. Work on the reparations will be performed in stages so as to allow for some of the ships to remain available for operations.
The MoD did not specify exactly how much the reparations would cost.