Royal Navy’s Type 45 Air Defence Destroyer Faces £189 Million Worth PIP
BBC revealed in 2016 that a design flaw in the Northrop Grumman intercooler connected to the ship’s Rolls-Royce WR-21 gas turbines reduced power availability significantly when operating in the warm climate of the Persian Gulf. One engine component has a major design flaw, which causes the GTs to fail on occasion. When this occurs, the electrical load on the diesel generators can become so great that the ship is left without power or propulsion. A ship that is unable to move is regarded as an easy target.
HMS DAUNTLESS, the first ship in her class to receive the Type 45 PIP conversion, is currently at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, where equipment is being installed. Following PIP, the ship will be tested. HMS DARING has been moved to the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. It will be the second Type 45 Destroyer to undergo her PIP conversion.All six Type 45 ships will have received the PIP conversion by the mid-2020s.
Type 45 uses a system called Integrated Electric Propulsion (IEP) which provides advantages on fuel efficiency. Two WR-21 gas turbines (GTs) and two Wartsila 2MW diesel generators provide AC power for the motors that propel the ship and the power for the ship’s systems – weapons, sensors lighting. The WR-21 GTs have an intercooler recuperation unit that recovers heat from the exhaust and recycles it into the engine. This is called regenerating energy, which makes the ship more fuel-efficient and reduces the ship’s thermal signature. The intercooler unit has a major design flaw that causes the GTs to fail occasionally. When this happens, the electrical load on the diesel generators may fail to leave the ship with no source of power or propulsion.
The British MoD has not revealed how frequently these blackouts have occurred, but the first two ships, HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, seem to have suffered the most. The first indication of problems was as far back as 2010 when HMS Daring lost all power in the mid-Atlantic and was repaired in Canada.
In 2014 Dauntless had to abandon a training exercise. In 2009, HMS Daring lost power in the Atlantic on her first voyage to the US. She suffered more propulsion problems off Kuwait in 2012.