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Daring-class Type 45 - Program

The six ships of the Daring-class Type 45 are costing the Royal Navy a total of 6 billion. The first Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Daring, was accepted into service 23 July 2009. HMS Dauntless officially joined the British fleet following a ceremony on 03 June 2010 at Portsmouth naval base in Hampshire. Guests at the ceremony included families of the 190 crew members and the Commander-In-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar. Dauntless is the second of six new design destroyers being built for the Royal Navy, all of which will be based in Portsmouth. The third, HMS Diamond, was due to arrive in Portsmouth by the end of the year. The Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond was launched from the BAE Systems Yard at Govan on Tuesday 27 November 2007.

When the Type 45 project was approved, the MoD planned to buy twelve ships. The MoD explained the rationale for this: "The requirement for 12 Type 45 Destroyers was first set out in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. The SDR confirmed the need to maintain plans to modernise the destroyer and frigate force, but reduced its size from 35 to 32. The need to meet a broad range of operational demands required a balanced fleet of Destroyers and Frigates, and it was judged that 12 Destroyers would be sufficient to meet this requirement with acceptable military risk against the planning assumptions and policy baseline at that time."

However, the requirement was reduced to eight ships in 2004, and in January 2008, during Parliament's Defence Equipment 2008 inquiry, the MoD told us that six Type 45s had been ordered and that "anything beyond that is subject to the review process now going on." Guy Lester, Director Capability Resources and Scrutiny, explained the MoD's reasoning for the reduction from 12 to six ships: "The successive reductions we have had from 12 to eight and then eight to six reflected partly priorities in the programme and partly an understanding of the capabilities of the ship, especially when we fit them with the Co-operative Engagement Capability, the improved networking compared with what was originally envisaged, but the judgement is that with a fleet of six we can protect a medium-scale operation, which is two task groups, and that is what we need to do."

The Gray report suggested that the reduction in numbers was at least partly because of the soaring costs of each ship: "HMS Daring and her sisters will cost 1 billion each, a price so high the UK can only afford 6 ships. This level of expenditure is well beyond any other current navy in the world, barring the US and France. As a result, the export potential is, to say the least, limited. The continued delivery of these ships at this cost may seem bizarre, but it is entirely consistent with each of the single Services' rational desires to retain as much of the available funding as possible."

The Department's policy requirement to have five ships available for tasking remains unchanged. The NAO suggested that "it will be challenging to meet this requirement with the reduction in the number of destroyers being procured, although the Department judges that the benefits of new technology, improved efficiency, and optimising the way it supports the destroyers to maximise time 'at sea' will mean it will be able to deliver the necessary capabilities with fewer ships".

In response to a question about the implications of one ship being put out of action, Dr Andrew Tyler answered that: "If we are managing to generate five from six, then at any point in time we have got one spare. Clearly if we lost one, then that would leave us only just enough to protect two task groups on that basis but frankly that goes for all of our defence capability. We have to size it to a particular assumption set and if you stress that assumption far enough then we end up with not enough equipment." He added that he did not believe that this represented "the farthest end of the risk" and that "we have taken a carefully calculated risk and believe that we can live with that perfectly adequately".

Skeptics were not convinced by the MoD's explanation that the reduction in the required number of Type 45s from twelve to eight and then eight to six was due to a better understanding of the capabilities of the ship. Any one ship can only be in one place at a time. Whilst new technology may well have provided some better than expected capabilities, the spiralling costs of the ship and the pressure on the equipment programme budget suggest that the reduction in numbers was in fact primarily down to affordability. The misleading explanations provided by the MoD in this case are another example of the unhelpful nature of MoD responses to questions.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:07:25 ZULU