Summer holiday for all of the Type 45 Destroyers?
At the end of July, the media picked up the fact that all six of the UK’s Navy Type 45 Daring Class destroyers were berthed in Portsmouth at the same time. These modern vessels HMS Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan are very much a vital part of today’s greatly down-sized Royal Navy and normally a few are on patrol in troubled parts of the world.
Under pressure from the media to explain the unusual circumstances of this planning, some of the reported answers from the RN’s Communication Department seemed slightly odd. They included “giving crews time with their families over the summer” and “achieving the right work/life balance for crews” - all very admirable, but surely staggering these arrangements would be the logical and efficient solution allowing patrol duties to continue as normal?
Co-incidentally I am sure, this news comes shortly after First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, while addressing the House of Commons Defence Committee, said that the gas turbine engines fitted to the Type 45 destroyers were experiencing major problems when operating in warm seas such as the Persian Gulf. It is even said that the ships may have to be re-engined at enormous cost.
If that is the case, then there are obviously questions around the original design specification, but surely even the engine manufacturers would understand that important fleet units of the Royal Navy, such as these destroyers, might be called to action in various parts of the world’s seas and oceans - some in warm waters, some in cold. I quote from the Royal Navy’s own online site on the Daring Class destroyers: “Destroyers are part of the backbone of the Royal Navy committed around the world 365 days a year hunting pirates, drug runners or submarines, defending the fleet from air attack and providing humanitarian aid after national disasters.”
The Daring Class destroyers are designed primarily for an air defence role, which will be key in providing security for the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers (currently being completed at Rosyth) when they enter active service. Whatever the reasons why Portsmouth is presently hosting all six Daring Class destroyers, it is vital that the serious technical problems of these ships are sorted out quickly.
The severe cut backs in recent years has left the Royal Navy seriously depleted in terms of destroyers and frigates - they need more, but embarrassments such as the problems with the Daring Class do not engender confidence.
The UK should have a strong, modern and powerful Royal Navy to ensure the safety and security of this island nation and a Senior Service that we and in particular, the women and men who serve in the RN can be proud of.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR