By Telegraph Reporters 24 NOVEMBER 2016 • 2:54PM
A Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer has been towed back into port just two days after it sailed following a total propulsion failure while taking part in Nato exercises.
The Daring class warship, HMS Duncan, left Devonport naval base at Plymouth on Sunday take part in a series of maritime wargames with Spanish, Portuguese and German warships.
But the 4,500 tonne hi-tech ship limped back into Plymouth on Wednesday under tow and shadowed by three additional dockyard tugs as well as the Ministry of Defence police.
The incident took place as HMS Duncan was taking part in routine manoeuvres off the Devon coast, known as Flag Officer Sea Training, to prepare her crew for operations.
The incident is the latest in a series of electrical failures which have plagued the Type 45 fleet and forced the Navy to admit that all six destroyers need major repairs.
All six Type 45s, which are based at Portsmouth, are fitted with a revolutionary integrated electrical propulsion system which drives the ship with “clean” power.
But the power is generated from a diesel generator which has often failed to deliver enough energy, forcing the system to shut down – leaving weapons systems exposed and the ship vulnerable to attack.
As HMS Duncan was towed back into port a spokesman for the Royal Navy spokesman said the vessel had experienced “technical issues”.
Watching the crippled warship being towed back Michael Penn, a van driver, who was watching from Plymouth’s Jennycliff, said: “The ship was under tow, she had no power she was powerless.”
He added: “She was surrounded by tug boats, whatever the problem it was clearly very serious.”
The fleet’s Type 45 destroyers were hailed as the most revolutionary warships in the world when they were first commissioned into the fleet.
But within a couple of years problems the ships started to report power failures, although the Royal Navy refused to admit there was a problem until this year.
The most concerning incident involved HMS Daring, the first of class, in 2009 when on her maiden deployment to the United States the ship lost power in the Atlantic ocean.
Since then there have been numerous operational incidents reported, including HMS Dauntless which suffered a power outage during a naval exercise in 2014.
In January 2016 the MoD confirmed that repairs would be carried out on all six Daring class warships in order to make sure they are fully operational.
A key factor in the multi-million-pound procurement of the destroyers was that they would not need a refit for at least 25 years, saving the naval budget significant costs in major dockyard maintenance periods.
In 2014 the Navy established Project Napier, a long term plan to improve power on all six Type 45 which includes new equipment and an upgrade the diesel generator system to provide greater resilience and integration with the main engines.
The estimated cost of repairs stands at £1 billion with many of the engineering parts including the diesel generators being bespoke items made just fore the Type 45 class.
The incident aboard HMS Duncan comes days after the MoD confirmed that the Harpoon missiles – the only antiship weapon on the Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers is to be withdrawn from service.
As senior naval officers seek to make further saving to support the operational running costs of the new super carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the defence select committee warned that the fleet is seriously short of warships.
In October 2016, Duncan, escorted by the frigate HMS Richmond, was dispatched by the Ministry of Defence to intercept and “man-mark” a fleet of Russian Navy vessels, including their flagship Admiral Kuznetsov, which were passing through the English Channel on their way to Syria.
The destroyer then escorted the fleet out of the Channel and into the North Atlantic.
A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “HMS Duncan experienced technical issues and will resume operations once a full assessment has taken place.”
Original post telegraph.co.uk