HMS Dauntless is back in Portsmouth after three months testing her new engines to the limit.
The Type 45 destroyer has undergone extensive trials around the UK throughout the summer, laying the foundations for her five sister ships as the entire class of Portsmouth-based air defence ships undergo the same upgrade.
The team aboard say the trials have gone well, delivering a ship which is now faster, more reliable, greener and ready to embark future weapons.
Known as PIP, the Power Improvement Project, addresses the resilience of the engines and power generation driving the many hi-tech sensors, systems and weapons on board the destroyer.
To make the necessary upgrades, the two original diesel engines were removed and replaced with three more reliable, more powerful, cleaner generators.
Ensuring previous issues have been addressed, a storeroom has also been converted into a high-voltage switchboard to deal with the extra power now generated – between four and five Megawatts.
It not only gives Dauntless a boost but could also power the technologies of tomorrow, such as energy weapons already under development for the Royal Navy in UK labs.
Commander Ben Power, Dauntless’ Commanding Officer, is pleased with the new engines, the trials and the efforts of his ship’s company to push the destroyer to the limit and blaze a trail for the rest of the class.
“It has been a long time coming, but getting back to sea felt fantastic,” he said. “My ship’s company have been fully-motivated to get the ship back to the front-line as quickly as possible.
“But it’s important we do this right: we’ve tested PIP robustly to ensure it works correctly. We have a duty to the rest of the Type 45 class to be thorough so we remain at the forefront of air defence operations.”
He continued: “PIP has provided extra flexibility and power that ‘future proofs’ the class for the next 20 to 30 years. It will also enable us to embark and integrate future weapon systems, enhancing the lethality of the Type 45 destroyer.”
Dauntless’ team of marine engineers say working side-by-side with their civilian counterparts has been crucial to the success of the programme so far.
At sea the two have been tweaking both the software and hardware to get the most out of the enhanced power plant.
“The indications so far are that PIP is delivering exactly what it set out to do,” said Lieutenant Commander Amy Glover, Dauntless’ Marine Engineering Officer.
Now back in Portsmouth, Dauntless is undergoing crucial planned maintenance and systems upgrades for the rest of the year to ensure she remains at the cutting-edge of naval/air defence operations before returning to the Fleet.
Trials, training and assessment will follow in the spring, with the ship fully operational again and ready to deploy worldwide – from next summer.
PIP is being delivered under a major design and manufacture contract between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, and delivered in collaboration with BMT Defence services and Cammell Laird.
HMS Daring, the first ship in the class, is currently undergoing PIP in Birkenhead, as Dauntless was, while HMS Dragon is receiving her new engines as part of a broader refit with BAE in Portsmouth.