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The Other Chris
March 24, 2016 3:50 pm

Roll on Type 46 design, looking oddly similar outwardly to BAE’s SEA 5000 offering.


March 25, 2016 1:20 am

As an outsider looking in,

Am I correct in thinking – stripping out the spiel in the letter – that in essence the systems that make the T45 (at a billion pounds a throw) cleave through the water and actually work are never going to operate as they were intended to even after hundreds of millions were spent on trials and development work?

Peter Elliott
March 25, 2016 7:47 am

Yup that’s basically it.

Peter Elliott
March 25, 2016 7:56 am

What I will say as well is that it was probably still right to try. The RN, MoD and RR all mudt know a lot more about Gas Turbines and Electric Propulsion now than they did 16 years ago and a success of the QEC (GT and diesel driven all electric ship) is much more likely as a result.

El Sid
El Sid
March 27, 2016 1:13 pm

A question to ponder over the weekend – would we benefit from a DOT&E-type organisation to tell truth to power? Or at least provide some kind of independent view on a project from a perspective of engineering/military usefulness?

I guess we’ve gone a little in that direction with the MPA traffic light system but they’re looking at things more from a financial/project management POV. But they’re still a long way short of the kind of detailed public humiliation that you see at http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2015/ But at least it gets problems into the public domain earlier, and it becomes part of the oversight process. The way this letter tells it, the people on the project knew it was a lemon from an early stage, but management kept making promises to the brass and politicians that everything would get sorted out, until the post-SDSR independent review told it how it was. But by then the ships had sailed.

Obviously this would mean increasing the tail of “useless paper-pushing bureaucrats taking money from the front line” but done right they could really earn their corn.I guess the MPA or NAO would be obvious bodies to attach this group to, but it would need proper resourcing because a stupid watchdog is worse than no watchdog at all, it gives you false comfort. A large part of the financial crash can be attributed to the FSA not paying well enough to tempt poachers to turn gamekeepers that were smarter than the bankers they were meant to be regulating. I don’t know how you’d do it, maybe go round the services in depth in a three-year cycle and cherrypick the worst projects from the other two on their “off” years rather than the detailed annual report of DOT&E. It would still be better than waiting for a report in 2011 on ships that launched five years earlier.

It would formalise some of what happens already internally, but DOT&E bring these problems out into the open and into the oversight of taxpayers’ representatives. Which is important in its own right (something that the US are very good at and we are less so) but it also gives the services a bit of protection from the likes of Hoon in the direct chain of command.

March 27, 2016 3:29 pm

El Sid, one great weakness of an organization designed to give criticism is that to make it look like they are earning their keep, the organization will produce nothing but carping criticism, even when decisions made are along the lines of “personal preference”. It can end up something like parliament’s opposition parties, tearing stripes off other people just to make it look like they are doing their job.

Of course, I do agree that projects need to be tested for utility and technical maturity but that is probably better done in house by their higher management than by an external party.

And on a related note, I’m of the opinion that the craze with “laser weapons” is getting a bit out of hand, they seem to be pushing something that the current technology isn’t capable of doing yet (anti-aircraft lasers for the 6th gen TACAIR). Don’t think that is going to end well.

El Sid
El Sid
March 30, 2016 4:40 pm

Think more of in terms of a technical version of the auditor of financial reports, a body that’s more about confirming people are actually doing what they say and formalising it in a way that is comprehensible to the outsiders who fund the activity. Having said that, DOT&E do go beyond that, but they have a pretty good reputation, they’re not considered “frivolous”. And in general, if spending a few million quid on technical auditors can save just 0.1% of a £18bn/year procurement budget, then they’re earning their corn beyond the accountability aspect.

On laser weapons, here’s a convenient summary of where the US is at :

stephen duckworth
March 30, 2016 5:55 pm

@El Sid
Nice link on the state of play on laser and railguns.
The side development of using a railgun projectile in a MK41 5″ gun as High Velocity Projectile has relevance to us as we are buying that gun for use on T26 and presumably on T45 during a midlife refit.

March 31, 2016 3:54 am

Thanks El Cid, that report was in a way pointing out what I described. Range of only a mile (and they never stated, a burn through time of 20 sec from the UAV test, making it totally impractical as an anti-missile defence), needs a 10x increase in power before becoming a practical anti-AShM weapon and takes up a huge amount of space (though not incomparable with a gun inclusive of deck penetration and magazine. If they wanted to design a 6th gen plane around it, what happens if the technology does not mature then? Weaponless plane? Delays for technological maturation? From this, I do see your point about a technological oversight committee. Still prefer it inhouse though, people on the inside would know the thinking process involved in making that decision as opposed to someone “fresh” from the outside.

The HVP was interesting, the original projectile was a square block of metal, from the EMRG ammo picture, it seems they stepped back to a sabotted projectile with a square casing instead and an aerodynamic inner projectile.

As for the “anti-UAV” spiel about how lasers can save some missiles for other things… let us just put it this way. I’ll fly my UAV beyond 2km. It just needs to see you, no need to go that close and personal. Which once again necessitates a long(er) ranged response. You’re better off asking the helo to go put it down.

El Sid
El Sid
March 31, 2016 2:28 pm

“a burn through time of 20 sec from the UAV test, making it totally impractical as an anti-missile defence), needs a 10x increase in power before becoming a practical anti-AShM weapon ”

You’ve got to start somewhere – and noone’s saying LaWS is the finished article, it’s a technology demonstrator, it’s as much about the practical stuff like keeping the optics free from salt spray as how big a death ray you can build. They’re aiming for a 4-5x increase in power within 2 years. Sixth gen planes won’t be flying this side of 2030.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no death ray fanboi, but at the same time it’s interesting to see how far the US has come.

” From this, I do see your point about a technological oversight committee. Still prefer it inhouse though, people on the inside would know the thinking process involved in making that decision as opposed to someone “fresh” from the outside.”

The trouble is the groupthink that results. Particularly in defence projects where people are discouraged from talking about things with outsiders for security reasons. Have another read of the document posted by TD above – the WR-21 is a classic case of self-deluding groupthink not being challenged until it was too late. As I say, DOT&E seem to do a pretty good job of understanding what’s going on and providing an alternative perspective.

The Other Chris
April 1, 2016 10:34 am

This morning’s announcement* on the Common Modular Reactor initiative using Dauntless as a test vessel for a series of small direct-electrical nuclear reactors (no steam turbines) sounds very promising.

If successful, would provide a great leap to the commercial version of the reactors to be dotted around the country.

*This may be an April 1st post… although all joking aside the £250m in the latest budget to initialise the project proper is true and Phase One is genuinely under way.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
April 1, 2016 12:06 pm

Do I understand the upgraded Diesel Generators will be able to propel the ship and operate it when the WR21 fails.

Was the fundamental design error not to have designed in the redundancy.

Will QE & PoW have this redundancy or having “learned the lessons” will they be dead in the water when the “more robust design architecture” fails.

I would hope that architecture in this context is a metaphor, the appearance* of a mechanical system has bugger all to to with its function, but the letter was clearly carefully written by a Civil Servant so we might query why the term architecture was adopted rather than say system or engineering.

*Architects are of course responsible for a great deal beyond appearance but efficiency and reliability of mechanical plant are not among them.

Rocket Banana
April 1, 2016 4:06 pm

If Daring can do 30 knots with 40MW of delivered power it will need roughtly 5MW to go 15 knots. This is due to the cubic law of power and is okay as as rough guide. However, the diesels only deliver 4MW between them and that would also need to power the ship’s systems too.

Basically the ship can’t operate and cruise without blowing the diesel generators.

Compare this with QEC which should do 25 knots with 80MW of delivered power. The cubic law to 15 knots means she’ll need about 18MW to cruise at 15 knots which can easily be delivered by the 40MW of diesel with room to spare to power the ship’s systems too.

It’s not quite as simple as all this but it serves as a guide to why T45 is an odd (to say the least) design.

Rocket Banana
April 1, 2016 4:37 pm

With the exception on the WR21 gubbins (which is forgivable) I think the T45 power plant is a massive blunder. It doesn’t take a genius to see it was a problem waiting to happen. The whole point in the diesels is for redundancy (and efficient low-demand power production which was not supposedly needed due to the fancy WR21), it’s just system redundancy (which is all they can manage) makes the ship a sitting duck in a real war. It always, always needed to be able to limp home on diesels.

Obviously nobody read the Albion/Bulwark memos.

April 1, 2016 5:42 pm

Multiple redundancies are expensive. If you think the Type-45 is expensive, wait till you see the cost after building in what is essentially a 2nd engine.

As for the “lots of individual small causes”, maybe we should go back to the past and ask priests to bless the darn thing first before starting work! Can’t hurt. :)

El Sid
El Sid
April 4, 2016 7:05 pm

@Deja Vu – err, “architecture” doesn’t mean visual appearance, it’s about the underlying design. Try reading the OED : “The complex or carefully designed structure of something….The conceptual structure and logical organization of a computer or computer-based system.”

And there was redundancy – the trouble was that the diesels were only intended to give enough juice to get home on, but WR21 proved so unreliable that they found themselves using the diesels far more than planned, and the diesels weren’t designed to be used to that extent.

Some more recent news :
SeaCeptor wins another downselect, all they’re saying is that it’s not Chile, who will decide soon on whether their T23’s get SeaCeptor or Barak-8 :

Someone’s worked out that one might not be able to guarantee getting QNLZ through Hormuz to Bahrain :
“the UK announced a multi-million pound joint venture (JV) that will “provide vital engineering work and support to the world’s naval vessels”….The UK government indicated there will be a permanent Royal Navy presence at Duqm and the port will be used by the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, as well as other naval vessels.”

USN have found an AWESUM acronym for small UAVs for targetting from submarines :

On land, there’s a review looking to get rid of LMG and 60mm mortars from rifle platoons :

43 Commando are standardising on the L119 Cold C8 at Faslane :

CTAI have delivered their first production gun to MoD :

And finally, a cute story about how pre-WWII televisions and some lateral thinking surprised the Septics :

andy reeves
andy reeves
November 22, 2016 6:40 pm

my son is on duncan, the issues of the other 45’s appear vastly overstated, no problems have been encountered and is regarded as a’fantastic’ ship the media will print any old guff like this, based on hearsay and not facts what i’d like to know is the projected ervice life of a 45? why can’t bristol be rebuiltfrom the inside outt t45 specs? i reckon the R.N COULD GAIN A DESTROYER IN HALF THE, AND A LOT CHEAPER THAN THE COST OR WAIT FOR A ‘NEW BUILD’

andy reeves
andy reeves
November 22, 2016 6:43 pm