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All six UK Type 45 destroyers in port amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine

HMS Dragon
Royal Navy file photo of HMS Dragon

The availability of the UK Royal Navy’s Type 45 air-defense destroyers is in the spotlight again as all six ships in the class are currently alongside for various maintenance or overhaul work.

With the arrival of HMS Dragon in Portsmouth on Monday, February 7, the Royal Navy was left with no destroyer underway as tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue. In the past few weeks, the UK has been one of the leaders of an international effort to deter Russia from turning a build-up of forces on the Ukrainian border into a military confrontation and has delivered anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.

Entering Portsmouth on Monday, HMS Dragon joined HMS Defender and HMS Diamond in port, two sister ships undergoing maintenance after deploying with HMS Queen Elizabeth last year. HMS Duncan, Dauntless and Daring are undergoing upgrades as part of the Power Improvement Project (PIP), which 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 navy is undertaking this program because the ships’ gas turbines experienced problems delivering enough power to engines in warmer waters.

The UK Defence Select Committee stressed in December 2021 that the low availability of the UK’s Type 45 destroyers and issues in their propulsion systems were a “major cause for concern.”

Whille all six units are alongside, it should be noted that HMS Defender and Diamond are believed to be ready to deploy at short notice, should the need arise.

This is the second time the availability of the destroyers has been brought into focus in a little over six months. The UK defense ministry confirmed in the summer of 2021 that only one of the six ships in the class was ready for operational tasking.

HMS Defender was left as the only ship in its class underway in July, as HMS Diamond, the second destroyer that had deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden deployment, was forced to detach due to technical issues. Diamond was actually forced to pause the deployment twice, due to defects.