Type 45, Trident, and why UK defence procurers might wish to turn back time

160219type45After This Blog reported the Conservative Government’s intention to replace the faulty engines on its Type 45 destroyers – the broken backbone of the Royal Navy – an astute Vox Political commenter suggested that the designers and manufacturers should “freely rectify their mistakes”.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen because the same Conservative Government has allowed the manufacturers’ warranties to expire, according to the latest Private Eye (1412, dated 19 February – 3 March).

This is interesting because the BBC News report on the Type 45s – where electrical problems cause engines and defence systems to cut out at moments of greatest need – made it very clear that the problems existed around three years ago, when documentary film-makers were asked by the Ministry of Defence not to screen footage of the power failures.

The warranties would have been in force at that time, so the obvious question is: Why did the government delay ordering the necessary repairs until after the cost became the responsibility of the taxpayer?

For a Conservative Government that claims to be cracking down on unnecessary waste, this seems outrageously profligate.

Here’s another issue: It seems the faulty equipment was designed and supplied by manufacturers based in the United States.

They include a “fuel-saving” US-UK Westinghouse-Rolls Royce 21 complex cycle gas turbine, an Ingersoll Rand engine “recuperator”, software for the ships’ electrical platform management system (EPMS) that is supposed to release “sheddable” non-essential electrical systems if more power is needed to run weapons (made by Northrop Grumman).

Now consider the proposed renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. The Conservative Government is planning to build costly new submarines (hopefully not using the same engines and software system as the Type 45s although, in government, any idiocy is possible) – to house US-built missiles and warheads.

Surely you can appreciate the problem here?

We know that the US-built kit for our Type 45 destroyers doesn’t work. We don’t have any reason to believe the US-built kit for our so-called “independent nuclear deterrent” will be any better.

Wouldn’t it be better to ditch the imported rubbish and concentrate on building something that works ourselves?

A final observation: Obviously it is now too late for the Conservative Government to force the manufacturers to replace the faulty equipment on the Type 45 destroyers. At times like this, they probably wish the titular star of the BBC’s Doctor Who was real.

If he was, they could use his Tardis – or Type 40 TT machine, to give it its proper title – to travel back to a time before the warranties ran out and save us many millions of pounds by forcing the manufacturers to put right the faults in their Type 45s.

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16 thoughts on “Type 45, Trident, and why UK defence procurers might wish to turn back time

  1. creatorsnotconsumers

    This is one of those, is it just me, moments? I’ve been conscious for some time that the government is very good at back door asset stripping, draining the tax pot away, as here in failing to take up warranty issues in good time. Hunt has launching a review of junior doctor morale and, of course, IDS engages in endless court actions and appeals. How many millions or even billions is thus frittered away, destabilising state provision further as a prelude to privatisation?

  2. Dez

    One can only wonder at why the contract warranty was not enforced, Someone screwed up the contract small print such that crap was allowed to be implanted without penalty? Some one in the procurement food chain needed to save their overpaid backside by remaining quiet…. let the plebs pay for their mistakes. Probably got promoted which is the way of the civil service. Maybe politics played a part keeping low profile rather than kicking arse with their US playmates? A very costly nice gesture that cost uk taxpayers…again. As stated this is a massive wake up call letting dozy amateurs negotiate contracts for all future large contracts. Like previous US arms negotiations we were probably set up by more astute suppliers. i wonder how many freebee USA VIP visits were engaged in ensuring the UK customers they are getting a top quality product….NOT If this had been the other way around the US Suppliers would be taken the UK Supplier apart. What’s the betting this total failure will end in the UK having to sort out this mess of failed or obsolete technology leaving us with dead duck impotent dangerous destroyers of no use to anyone.

  3. Malcolm MacINTYRE-READ

    As our MP is the Con Min for MoD Procurement I will ask why it happened. Will report back if reply is received.

    Less sure if I will get one these days because, when we mere constituents asked for his support in our fight with HM Treasury over their Equitable Life scam, he stated that as a Con Min he is not able to criticise the actions of other Con Mins.

    I am now trying to work out how constituencies with MPs who are promoted to Min status can acquire a new & workable elected “representative”.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      They should have a nominated person to whom they pass such matters, if I recall correctly.

  4. Spamlet

    The whole warranty concept is a scam anyway. It just lets companies get away with selling shoddy goods in the knowledge that they can make more money on replacements than on building to last.

    In the age of ‘sustainability’ the warranty is an anachronism that must go. Companies that make faulty goods must replace them, however long it takes the fault to show.

  5. Edward E. Smith Ph. D

    I wonder if any donations to a certain party/parties were forthcoming (all perfectly legal, don’cha know old boy)

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The source was quoted in the article.
      If you have different information, why haven’t you quoted that, together with its source?
      Come on, let’s have it!

  6. mohandeer

    Esther McVey fought for replacement and faulty systems on at least three seperate occasions in the ISDS(secret courts) she lost on all three counts because the ISDS sided with the manufacturers. The ISDS will always side with the money coprporations and it will be a lot worse if we end up joining the TTIP. Cameron knows this and it has already cost the taxpayers nearly a billion pounds when clocking up the replacements that had to be paid for and the court costs yet he still promotes it. Warranties, as the above “Spamlet” stated, are worthless.

      1. Spamlet

        Yes we do. There are already secret courts. There was a programme where someone tried to get access to one of the courts not long ago. Can’t remember what one–sorry–but the guard outside the courtroom said he had no idea what case was being heard, and nobody was allowed to know.

        Government was recently taken to court over a bank’s loss of profit from the recently lifted ban on investment in Iran. I didn’t hear the outcome.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I thought secret courts were about terrorism/threats to the nation, not commercial disputes, though.

      3. Spamlet

        The biggest International Arbitration Centre is at 70 Fleet Street, and cases can take 10 years and involve thousands of bundles of files.

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