Procurement of Type 26 and Type 45 combat ships examined

Defence Committee questions top Navy Officials on Type 25 and Type 45 ships procurement

from Defence Committee

The Defence Committee takes evidence from top Navy Officials on the procurement of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship and the Type 45 Destroyer.


Tuesday 7 June 2016, the Wilson Room, Portcullis House

At 10.45am

  • Rt Hon Lord West of Spithead GCB, DSC, PC, former First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
  • Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope GCB, OBE, DL, former First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
  • Peter Roberts, Senior Research Fellow for Sea Power and Maritime Studies at RUSI

At 11.30am

  • John Hudson, Managing Director, BAE Systems plc
  • Andrew McKeran, Marine Business Executive, GE Energy Connections – Power ConversionDr Andrew Tyler, Chief Executive Europe, Northrop Grumman
  • Tomas Leahy, Director, EMEA Programmes, Naval Marine, Rolls-Royce

At 12.15pm

  • Duncan McPhee, Manual Convenor (Scotstoun), Unite

Focus of the session

The Committee seeks to examine:

  • The effect on Royal Navy capability of the decision in the 2015 SDSR to reduce the number of the Type 26 Global Combat Ships from 13 to 8 with the expectation that the remaining 5 vessels will be a new class of lighter, flexible general purpose frigates
  • An assessment of the impact of the reported delays in the Type 26 programme
  • The MoD, Royal Navy and industry decision-making processes in relation to the Integrated Full Electric Propulsion system for the Type 45
  • An assessment of the propulsion problems on the Type 45 vessels and the impact on the Royal Navy’s ability to conduct its work
  • How will the problems with the Type 45 be remedied in the short and long term, including the Project Napier work strands


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June 3, 2016 9:31 am

Oh dear, the good Lord West. Another chance to bark.

Peter Elliott
June 3, 2016 9:38 am

Subjects well worth examining but I fear more heat than light will be the result :/

The Other Chris
June 3, 2016 11:35 am

I hope the manning issue is raised. We’re fortunate that the USN and USCG need to “Seedcorn” their personnel (and they sound genuinely grateful for the reciprocity).

It’s by far and away the biggest threat and risk factor to our armed forces as it limits the hulls, airframes, brigades and other unit asset classification you wish to mention.

Capital expenditure is not expensive.

People are expensive.

June 3, 2016 12:10 pm

Good to know this is being done, to at least understand the issues if nothing else. It would be particularly useful to understand how a low-risk concept like T26 ended up as it has. If lessons are not learned from that process, Type 31 hasn’t got a hope in hell.

June 3, 2016 1:42 pm

Or two. SEA LIGHTNING!!!!!!

June 7, 2016 12:21 pm

“Admiral Lord West, First Sea Lord between 2007 to 2010, told the defence committee that the MoD had effectively “run out of money”.”

June 7, 2016 1:50 pm

Well whilst the T26 debacle rumbles along its never ending path look what has just been finished by DSME in South Korea, with particular reference to propulsion and general system fit:

Shorter legged than the T26 but it ain’t half similar! I bet on time and budget as well!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 7, 2016 2:09 pm


It is not similar in the least. This is the first of the Batch 2 Incheon Class Coastal Frigates. Coastal vs Global? Displaces just over 3000 tonnes has only 14 Korean designed vls cells, no mission bay, can only carry a medium or small helo. No towed array yet, etc. Ogh plus it’s floating :)

June 7, 2016 2:26 pm


I was referring to the propulsion in particular but aside from that Phalanx and MK 45 MOD 4, a conceptually similar radar and a VLS suite that does much the same as MK41. It is indeed smaller hence my note that it was shorter legged.

The main point is they have a vessel whilst we are tied up in paper studies and prevarication!

June 7, 2016 2:33 pm

Fedaykin, I suspect having a raving loony as a border neighbour has something to do with their speed of military upgrading.

Maybe if you insulted the French enough….? :)

June 7, 2016 3:04 pm


That is certainly true, the Battle of Yeonpyeong a case in point! Albeit regional tensions with countries like Japan play a part.

June 7, 2016 3:39 pm

Pity I can’t access it on MOD systems. Do they usually publish transcripts of this sort of thing?

Jeremy M H
June 7, 2016 3:40 pm

People have a right to be pretty pissed off honestly. And the government has almost no one to point at but itself. Took a leap on the propulsion system vendor said was risky and skimped on testing. Dangerous thing to do with your key escort vessels and no practical alternative out there.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 7, 2016 3:44 pm


Also a fundamental lack of understanding in best way to run it. Too much trying to run on the DGs. Defender has done pretty well out in the Gulf, 100% availability on task up to her AMP. She sucked it up and ran on the GTs.

Jeremy M H
June 7, 2016 3:54 pm


Yeah, it’s not broken as in unusable from what I gather just not getting what one hoped in terms of efficiency gains.

It’s interesting if you look back at propulsion advances historically. The USN used to do them by trailing a set as a modification of a known platform. I forget which one but they trailed Turbo Electic Drive on one battleship while the other on or two of that class got traditional machine sets. No one does that anymore.

Will be interesting to see how the DDG-21 system proves to work. I do think the fully electric ship is the way forward, but farting up the power plant of basically 100% of your air defense surface assets illustrates the risk of doing something new on a core capability like that. In that way I am thankful the insanity of the DDg-21 operating concept got cut off. They are ideal trial platforms for this kind of thing as well as other things like rail guns ect befor you go messing with core capabilities.

June 7, 2016 4:49 pm

I don’t think the risks associated with the propulsion plant were that significant or obvious. Yes this was a new concept, but the problems that have emerged are relatively obscure and we’ve been trialling new concepts for many years. It’s a good idea, and good ideas always need time to bed in. Who could have predicted the failures in the ICR system that lie at the heart of this entire issue? Yes, there is insufficient resilience in the non-GT power generation capability for motive power, but the GT’s were supposed to be the prime mover at sea, the diesels only for domestic loads in harbour. If you introduce a systemic problem and shift your power demand to the diesels, of course they will struggle – they’re under under extreme pressure to do something on a permanent basis that was only ever supposed to be a fallback option. Fuel problems should have been addressed – we have run shitty fuel through gas turbines for years, you just make sure your fuel cleaning systems are up to scratch. The re-engining programme is a sensible measure and well considered, but the GTs, and specifically the back-end ICR that made the thing efficient and whose failures appear to be the source of engine wobbles, control systems kick-outs and poor efficiency, should have been the top priority for repair and replacement.

stephen duckworth
June 7, 2016 5:57 pm

The WR-21 is a brilliant concept and no doubt will be revisited with a version of the MT30 at some stage.By having a much more efficient prime mover at low loads , the vast majority of a ships at sea power demand profile (“all ahead flank speed” being a bit of a rarity ) and not having to bring on line the diesels (its not quite like starting up your VW Golf ) is a real boon to the stokers. This article from Marine Propulsion mentions that feed water temperatures to the intercooler on the WR21 have caused issues in the Gulf along with wind born sand particles (will we EVER learn :-) clogging filters.,rollsroyce-turbines-target-naval-projects_38749.html
Also the article mentions another iUK success story the RR MT7 which will equip the new USMC Ship to Shore Connector , the SSC . 72 vessels with 4 each and with some commonality with its parent engine that powers the USMC V-22 , should give a nice boost to arguably one of Britain’s greatest companies.

shark bait
June 7, 2016 6:55 pm

WR21 is not a good concept, recuperators don’t work well on big engines.

It’s no accident that commercial regeneration gas turbines are very small, with small pressure ratios.

We are moving onto better things with the MT30, if we want to improve on it develop a combined cycle bolt on in an IEP arrangement.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 7, 2016 10:53 pm

Or just stick with diesels for low to moderate power, that – if sized correctly for demand – work perfectly well……

stephen duckworth
June 8, 2016 6:26 am

Hitachi in their AHAT (Advanced Humid Air Turbine ) have side stepped some of the WR21 recuperator problems by using de-mineralized water as the heat transfer medium from the exhaust to be added to the incoming air flow as opposed to transferring the heat using the incoming air flow as the medium as the WR21 does. There is no inter-cooler required either. This process allows their 40 MW demonstration unit to achieve the same efficiency as a Combined Cycle Plant but eliminates the additional complexity of a steam turbine and high pressure boiler and allows the turbine to be manufactured using cheaper materials as the exhaust temperatures are lower than are required in a CCP GT. Low load efficiency is also high giving flexibility of power generation.
They have now linked up with Mitsubishi to produce a commercial offering in the 70 MW range for commercial power generation projects with 250 MW as their end goal.
As both Hitachi and Mitsubishi are major shipbuilders perhaps a version will appear afloat.

June 8, 2016 8:01 am

Todays Daily Flail has an article on the T45 engine problem. Not read it fully yet, but they seem to think that the WR21 works fine in cool climates, but overheats & cuts out, in hot climates.

stephen duckworth
June 8, 2016 8:25 am

The ft reports the same ,
With surface water temps reaching 34°C in the Gulf the intercooler feed water is sometimes too hot to do its job.
Perhaps a weighted hose over the side into deeper cooler water might do the trick ;-)

Peter Elliott
June 8, 2016 8:58 am

I’d have thought a pre cooler on the feed water would be an easy fix. It’s a standard piece of kit in many industrial processes.

One way or another it sounds like they’re working round it if the current ship out there is performing well.

More amazing is that the ambient conditions in the Gulf must have been well known and yet weren’t included in the original specification. That’s beyond careless for a navy with the ambition of global reach.

June 8, 2016 9:00 am

I think that the WR21 is suffering thanks (yet again) to significant American interest in a UK concept, only to bail out just as the UK commits to using it. Having had all bar 12 examples of the type killed off, Rolls Royce (perhaps wisely) abandoned it in favour of developing the MT30 from the Trent, without an ICR but using a more advanced and higher efficiency engine. Had the US not bailed, we could (potentially) have dozens if not low hundreds of engines in service, sustained interest in developing the ICR technology further (perhaps something similar to the Hitachi design) and perhaps a less contentious future for the WR21. In the end, we’re stuck with it, which is a shame.

The cost of redeveloping the ICR and sustaining the engine through the life of the T45 is probably less than the outright purchase of new engines and the doubtless costly and challenging process required to integrate a new engine into the bespoke T45 propulsion control system. The re-engining programme, which beefs up the diesel generating capacity, adds redundancy and reduces the load on the GTs, is also sensible. And the Navy has now fundamentally given Rolls Royce an opportunity to draw further experience with this ICR design to support its own development and perhaps marketing of high-efficiency gas turbine alternators as the eventual successor to the MT30.

I am something of a fan of increasing the efficiency of engines – the advances made by F1 cars in their turbo-hybrid engines are nothing short of miraculous, something like 50% plus thermal efficiency. Making our marine propulsion systems more efficient is surely a worthwhile endeavour, noting that ICR is but one way of doing it.

June 8, 2016 9:28 am

Interesting comment by Gunbuster on the T45 Parliamentary question:

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 8, 2016 11:23 am


I can back @gunbuster up on that. DFND did not lose a single days availability during the first half of her deployment.