Royal Navy’s hi-tech destroyer breaks down in NATO wargame, towed back to port

 The Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer © Luke MacGregor
One of the Royal Navy’s cutting edge Type 45 destroyers had to be humiliatingly towed back to port just two days after setting off to take part in NATO exercises.

The HMS Duncan is believed to have suffered total propulsion failure, forcing it back into Plymouth harbor on Wednesday, according to the Telegraph.

The 4,500 ton hi-tech ship left Davenport naval base on Sunday to take part in naval exercises alongside Spanish, Portuguese and German warships.

The Plymouth Herald reports that the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 berthed in Davenport last Friday, before taking part in the training exercises on Monday. The warships were due to set off for a European port after the wargames were completed.

The incident took place off the Devon coast as the HMS Duncan was taking part in maneuvers known as Flag Officer Sea Training.

This is the latest in a series of electrical failures to leave the warship without propulsion and unable to fire its weapon systems.

The billion-pound destroyers were meant to revolutionize naval warfare with greater anti-anticraft and anti-missile clout, but it soon became apparent that they are unable to reliably operate in warmer waters like the Mediterranean or the Gulf.

The navy originally wanted 12 Type 45’s, but ended up with only six of the destroyers at a cost to the taxpayer of £1 billion (US$1.45 billion) each.

The Defence Select Committee warned of issues with the destroyer as long ago as 2009, when it reported that there was “persistent over optimism and underestimation of the technical challenges combined with inappropriate commercial arrangements.”

Concerns about the vessel were also raised after the Type 45 HMS Daring lost power in the Atlantic in 2010 and had to be repaired in Canada.

One source told the Daily Record newspaper that the UK “can’t have warships that cannot operate if the water is warmer than it is in Portsmouth harbor.”

The ships taking part in the NATO training exercise included the HMS Duncan, the FGS Rhoen (German Navy), the NRP Alvares Cabral (Portuguese Navy) and the flagship ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon (Spanish Navy).