back to article Navy's £1bn+ destroyers set to remain unarmed for years

The "Sea Viper" missile system for the Royal Navy's new Type 45 destroyers looks set to suffer further setbacks following a reported failure during test firings. The weapons are already so late that the first £1bn+ Type 45 has been in naval service for nearly a year - almost completely unarmed. HMS <em>Daring</em> during sea …


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  1. Valerion

    The Type 45

    PCSOs of the sea.

  2. Sentient


    Probably an inch to mm conversion failure. :)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Well, that explains it.

    Now we know why the navy wasn't allowed, because it was "too dangerous", to engage somalian pirates despite being right there, on patrol to do just that. Those pirates, on the other hand, did well. They even started an investing exchange to even more effectively team up and squeeze some nice ransom dosh out of passing tankers. Or who knows, maybe an unarmed destroyer or two?

    The hand grenade while I still can, and because the navy certainly cannot.

  4. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Slight misuderstanding

    I think Mr Lewis is under some sort of misapprehension about the purpose of these vessels.

    The purpose of most of the armed forces is to transfer government money to people who would be otherwise unemployed and vote. It's the same principle as the YTS, pay someone to dig a hole, pay someone else to fill it in - reduce unemployment.

    As somebody said, "a boat is a hole in the water to pour money in" recent governments have simply optimized the hole making. The Navy is really just a series of expensive holes to pour money in.

    It would obviously better if they hadn't been fitted with engines, then they would also have reduced their greenhouse emissions and being stuck in port would have boosted Portsmouth's alcohol and hospitality industries.

  5. Doug 10


    You let the cat out the bag Page!

    It's on your head if the French invade.

  6. Marvin the Martian

    What a bad press officer

    Do not say: "the failure of the test was a setback."

    Consider, before the test it was unsure if it would work or not.

    So, do say: "a lot of interesting and unexpected data was collected."

    A different version is "a lesson is learned but the damage is irreversible," however that's a cartoon's name.

  7. Sumack

    The usual shambles

    We could have bought the US Aegis System years ago which includes not only Standard missiles but also the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) which is more capable against low flying fast targets. This system was perfectly adequate for Germany, Holland, Norway, Spain, Australia, South Korea and Japan and would have been in service years ago avoiding the cost of expensive refits to keep our ageing Type 42 destroyers in service.

    But no. Building British whether it is value or not is always our first priority and if that's not possible then buy European to show what good little Europeans we are. For heavens sake don't by a cheaper, proven already available US system!

    Just do a comparison between what we have got as our AAW destroyer and the US (given they are reportedly around the same cost per ship). Their Arleigh Burke Flight 2a class destroyers have twice the number of anti aircraft missles, two helicopters to the Type 45's one, their anti aircraft missiles can be used against warships whereas those of the Type 45 can't leaving her with no anti-ship missile system, the US ships have land attack cruise missiles anti-submarine torpedoes which the Type 45 does not and crucially for an AAW platform, they carry the Co-operative Engagement Capability allowing them to network tracking and targeting capability with other ships. The Type 45 might get this capability in 2014.

    If the Type 45's anti aircraft missiles eventually work they will be better than the US equivalent but the US ship is far more rounded (and general capability across a number of missions is vital the fewer ships you have) and was available years ago. Alternatively we could have bought cheaper designs (such as the German F124) and had more hulls than the 6 we can afford to replace the 12 AAW destroyers we previously had.

    Still, being good Europeans and putting civilian defence jobs ahead of military need is a much more important priority than properly equipping the forces.

  8. Laurent_Z
    Thumb Down

    Your new Ads... Shell invasive screen thing


    Out of respect (and because I know that's how you earn money) I never put up an ad-blocker when reading the Reg.

    Now I have this annoying Shell as that increase in size whenever my mouse pointer goes above it.

    So I have nothing against ads at el Reg. And I even click on them whenever it is of interest to me (and sometime even when I am just only barely interested).

    But an ad that takes half a page just because I moved my mouse over is a bit too much....

  9. David Adams


    So let me get this straight.

    We have 1 working Nuclear Sub that doesn't actually carry any Nukes, Destroyers that can't shoot at anyone, we have no planes for the new carriers and the planes that the RAF are getting, aren't up to the job required?

    "So, what do we have on the ship that's good?"

    1. Simon C

      perhaps the cook?

      If he's a british Steven Seagal we may have an opportunity to end all wars...

    2. Joe User

      Re: Useless

      @David Adams: "So, what do we have on the ship that's good?"

      Tea, perhaps?

    3. Mike Richards

      @ David Adams

      The good news is that they did put the pointy-bit at the front.

      I wonder how many Swedish stealth ships we could have bought for the price of this fiasco?

  10. Subban

    I've spotted the problem..

    >"Sea Viper/PAAMS is largely French and Italian in origin,"

    Its the French genes kicking in, the missile didn't want to go to war, hence the misfire.

    Nb... In case the icon is missed... I AM JOKING.

    1. Mr Ian
      Thumb Up


      Ah I see, the Sea Viper was fired... saw a sea-skimming missile, popped out a white flag and then legged it off over the horizon.

  11. Adam Salisbury

    Can the next governemnt please...?

    Boot BAE out on their asses, torch whatever offices they still have over here to play the Brit-job card with so we can start getting competent and talented people in to provide for our armed forces.

    I could go on but it'd make me feel even more sick :(

  12. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Eggs and baskets anybody?

    I thought that the Navy had learned not to put reliance on a single weapon system a long time ago (the Counties suffered from this with Seaslug in the 50's and 60's). Still, if the carriers are not built, these destroyers will be of limited use anyway, even if armed.

    It's funny, There is actually a direct analog between the County class Guided Missile destroyers of the cold war era, who's job was to defend a carrier task force from low-flying aircraft, and the Type 45s that are supposed to do the same against low flying missiles. Both are largely single purpose, single weapon platforms, hugely expensive to build and run, and mainly ineffective at their role.

    I wonder if these missiles were ever known as Floggle Grummit missiles? I'm sure HMS Troutbridge had trouble with these in the Navy Lark.

    Left hand down a bit!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    More joined up thinking from the Blighty's government

    About the only thing they can organise properley is lining their own pockets...


    1. Clint Sharp


      You appear to be under one, namely that the government is about protecting and serving the people of the UK. It's actually giving our money to those who offer the nicest sweeteners and if you can share out the work over a few nice holiday destinations even better. As a famous long established satirical magazine is fond of saying, trebles all round...

  14. Tony S

    Yo ho ho

    The problem is that the Admiralty are always preparing to fight the last war (and I suspect Lewis that you are doing the same). It's been that way since the 1600s, so I don't suppose it will change anytime soon.

    Certainly there is always a chance of a ship being attacked by a missile from an opposing navy or land based forces, but at the present, the RN is more involved in smaller police type actions - drug / human trafficking, piracy etc. For this they don't need large fleets, but smaller more agile ships operating independently or in small squadrons of 2 / 3 vessels to be most effective. The big fleets are just a waste of time as they cannot cover a fraction of the area required and are just too inflexible.

    Where they provide support for land based troops, they do need larger ships - but even that is limited in scope. But the boys with gold braid do like their nice big shiny toys, so we end up with a ship that has incredible firepower, all the different types of scanning capability that you could wish for - and a couple of guys with AK47s in an old wooden fishing smack can run rings around them.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    re. Yo ho ho

    "so we end up with a ship that has incredible firepower"

    We wish! the point of this article is that we've spend billions to end up with ships that have no firepower!

    The most cost effective way of dealing with the Navy's procurement problem would be for us to put the senior staff of the Admiralty and the board of directors of BAE onto one of these useless tubs and set them adrift off the coast of Somalia; then ignore the ransom letters until the pirates put them out of our misery.

    1. Tony S

      Re: re:Yo ho ho

      "We wish! the point of this article is that we've spend billions to end up with ships that have no firepower!"

      I accept your point - however, the theory is that it 'should' have incerdible firepower, but that's still no use against a couple of bods with AK47s as the missile can't target such an old type of vessel.

      In some respects, it's probably better that they don't have the missiles on the ship. If they don't have them, then the matelots can throw old tin cans at the prirates - probably stand a better chance of doing some damage if they use HITS (herrings in tomato sauce)

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Rule, Brittania!

    After reading this I am waiting for news that one of the Type 45s gets it's butt kicked in a fair fight with Somalian pirates.....

    I can see why they named them "Daring" and "Dauntless" though. It is both daring and dauntless to go to sea in a nearly unarmed ship flying the white ensign. Maybe to save money for the missles (or ransoming the crew after they are captured by Somalis) the Ministry of Defense should just remove all the colored parts from the ensign!

    However, not all is lost. I am sure that these Type 45s are fast enough that Gordon Brown can go waterskiing behind one.

  17. PT

    I can think of better things... spend the money on. A billion quid is about the cost of a good sized Las Vegas casino-resort, which would employ far more people for a much longer time, and perhaps earn a bit of money on the side. BAE's research efforts could be redeployed to do something about improving the weather - not much chance they'll succeed, but what's new about that?

  18. S Larti
    Paris Hilton

    You couldn't make it up!

    Unless you are an accountant for BAe and are laughing all the way to the bank.

    Paris - because she's unarmed and has been known to be full of semen.

  19. graeme leggett

    to be fair to the Counties..

    They also had four 4.5 inch guns, and some of them traded two of those in for four Exocets.

    They also had SeaCat for self defence.

    So although built around that Sea Slug they proved to some degree adaptable. The nuclear tipped Sea Slug might have been a bit hairy though - just as well we didn't go that route.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Salisbury

    No point blaming BAE. The MoD mandated the use of Sea Viper.

    BAE has actually done quite well staying within budget. Cost and time over runs are mainly due to the MoD changing the spec and budget every 2 weeks.

  21. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    well, if armed neutrality's out of fashion

    One can always try unarmed hostility.

    As best I can remember the Aegis system's only test in combat involved shooting down a commercial airliner. (In level flight, not on a course that threatened the ship.) No doubt it is capable of more challenging targets.

  22. raving angry loony

    to hell with bait and switch, how about bait and nothing?

    Ah yes, the British Bobbies of the sea. Unarmed and friendly service to an ocean near you.

    How many billions have the companies involved suckered out of the taxpayer now?

    Likelihood of criminal charges: 0.0.

    Likelihood of anyone being held responsible: 0.0.

    Likelihood of another bumper profit year for the companies involved: 1.0

  23. Coltek

    Why Should Britain Tremble?

    And that's all.

  24. Jamie 27

    For more info on the arms industry....

    ...... read Mark Thomas's "As used on the famous Nelson Mandela". Very funny, but also very disturbing. Buy it for yourself for Xmas! Then read "IBM and the Holocaust".

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just of show anyway.

    Whats the fuss ? These things only exist so that Idiot Jeremy Clarkson can have some sort of dumb challenge when he pits it with the latest 900 bhp Ferrari (City Bonus) Craptroni.

    Actually while im on the subject BBC2 Top Gear is nothing but a shopping channel for thieving bonus driven Bankers and Thick Footballers.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Why buy American

    Maybe the MoD has got wary of purchasing cheap US kit, only to find that they have equipment that they cannot maintain or improve:

    F35 - US not sharing avionics source code with partners

    Chinooks Upgrade - unserviceable because source code not provided, so avionics downgraded.

    So maybe purchasing an Aegis platform that gives the MoD no options but to accept what the US releases is not the best move. It may have also motivated the MoD to upgrade the aging Puma helicopters instead of getting locked into cheap Blackhawks.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Very Good Point

      It is all well and good constantly advocating buying American. But anyone who has properly studied modern military equipment (I spent a long time as an RAF Engineering Officer by the way) will know that it is the electronics that make the platform. A while back I observed an exercise between British Tornado F1s (the worst fighter ever pretty much) and American F16s. The F1s have the turning circle of a cruise liner (of 20s era - not the modern ones that can turn much faster than an F1). In 1 on 1 engagements the F16s won every time - for those who don't know, 1 on 1 fighter actions are all about turning and burning faster than the opposition. In 2 on 2 or higher engagements, the F1s won almost all the time. In larger engagements situational awareness is king (think of a 2 on 2 as two 1 on 1 engagements where you can swap your enemy if it is to your advantage). You get better situational awareness by better avionics (which the F1s had in spades) and better training.

      Now, whenever we buy kit from the Americans we get massively downgraded avionics (or other electronics). We get the same shiny platform as them, but none of the same capabilities since this is electronics related. We then spend an absolute fortune developing new electronics to get those capabilities back. But the fortune is spent in small contracts a bit at a time, so it doesn't make the headline figure. If you actually cost getting an F22 against buying a Eurofighter; or getting a Type 45 against getting an Aegis: what you find is that the American stuff looks cheaper, but costs more once you have the electronic systems upgraded to the same level.

      Of course, in this case, I still agree with Lewis' analysis regarding the benefit of having missiles to shoot down sea-skimmers - unless that system can be tied in with airborne radar as well. Clearly the capability comes from the fact that all our Falkland's losses were to sea-skimmers. But these destroyers are designed to protect a carrier battlegroup, and should therefore properly interoperate with the carrier battlegroup systems.

    2. mark 129


      Well said, Simon. Australia is a classic example of buying 'cheap' off-the-shelf stuff(both European and American). From helicopters to submarines it's been a litany of disaster. Don't even get me started.

  27. Stoneshop Silver badge

    So, given that it's basically unarmed

    how about changing its name from HMS Daring to HMS Suicidal Insanity ?

  28. Tim Jenkins

    Ships of the Desert?

    " is supposed to be able to knock down supersonic sea-skimming antiship missiles, a thing that even the latest Standard SM-2s may be unable to do. Such missiles are a terrible threat to surface ships without air cover..."

    Damn; so when the Taliban Navy gets hold of those, we're sunk!

    Oh, hang on a minute...

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Ship rename: HMS Darling

    from Blackadder?

  30. Russell Long
    Thumb Down

    Not up to us any more.

    We HAVE to buy European now. We aren't allowed to do anything else because with our new European Army, European Navy and European Air Force all ex-countries of the superstate have to have the same kit, whether it sucks or not.

  31. Matt Hawkins
    Thumb Down

    @S Larti

    BAe had nothing to do with building the Type 45 destroyer. I think the company you are trying to insult is BAE Systems. This attention to detail is the reason you should never attempt to work on a complicated engineering project !

  32. Will 20

    Another Page Fail

    I love The Register, but every time I see a Page article, I think FAIL! Go ask what they think of him on Arrse or Rum Ration .


    PAAMS is part of a layered defence system. Its pointless without say, the F35. Which is not yet in service. So actually, a delay isn't the worst thing in the world to happen to it. And yes, we could have AEGIS and SM-2, but if you actually talk to the engineers - PAAMS will be capable of things that SM-2 can't do.

    Ultimately, the reason Page never made it above Lt. Cmdr is because he tries to be an insufferable know-it-all... and he's usually mostly wrong.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Naval Service

    The Type 45 is not in Naval Service.

    It is still undergoing sea trials and as such doesn't need any weapons at the moment. The Scottish coast isn't that dangerous ...

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