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Only one of Royal Navy’s six Type 45 destroyers currently “ready for action”

HMS Defender
HMS Defender (pictured) is the only Type 45 destroyer currently available for operations. Royal Navy file photo

The poor availability of Royal Navy Type 45 air-defense destroyers has once again come into focus after the defense ministry confirmed only one of the six ships in the class was ready for operational tasking.

The only fit destroyer, HMS Defender, is already deployed with the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group, which is currently operating east of Suez and scheduled to sail all the way to Japan.

HMS Diamond, the second destroyer that had deployed with the group was forced to detach due to yet-to-be-revealed technical issues. However, defense ministry and navy officials expect the ship to rejoin the CSG after undergoing maintenance, inspection and defect rectification in Italy.

HMS Dragon is undergoing a period of planned maintenance in advance of further operational commitments, while HMS Daring and HMS Duncan are currently undergoing “deep maintenance,” as explained by UK defense procurement minister Jeremy Quin in response to a parliamentary question.

In a recent release, the Royal Navy said HMS Daring’s refit has included complete overhauls of propulsion and weapon systems, refurbishment of living quarters, plus upgrades to communications, radar and her safety equipment. The ship will also be in the program for a weaponry boost later this decade with the addition of Sea Ceptor air defense missiles silos in all Royal Navy destroyers.

One of the most significant upgrades to the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer fleet is being undertaken on HMS Dauntless, which is the first in the class to undergo a Power Improvement Project upgrade.

Dauntless is expected to return to sea for trials this year, after arriving at Cammell-Laird’s Birkenhead shipyard to start an overhaul in May 2020. Once work on the first ship has been completed, the follow-on ships could be expected to complete PIP faster.

The Royal Navy’s Power Improvement Project (PIP) will see the entire fleet of destroyers receive three new diesel generators, instead of the two currently fitted, to be able to better withstand operations in warmer waters. The project is necessary as the ships’ gas turbines experienced problems delivering enough power to engines in warmer waters.

The power generation issues are one of the main reasons the Royal Navy has struggled with the availability of the destroyers since they started entering service in 2009.