After 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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