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BAE Systems brings HMS Dragon PIP conversion to Portsmouth

All six Type 45 ships are scheduled to receive the PIP conversion by 2028. (Crown Copyright/RN)

BAE Systems has switched the major power generation upgrade for the UK Royal Navy (RN) Type 45 air defence destroyer HMS Dragon from the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead to its own facilities in Portsmouth Naval Base.

The move is intended to accelerate the delivery of the Power Improvement Project (PIP), under which each ship will receive three 3 MW-rated Rolls-Royce Power Systems MTU 20V 4000 M53B diesel alternators – replacing the two 2 MW Wärtsilä 12V200 generator sets fitted at build – to increase electrical generation capacity onboard. The WR-21 Gas Turbine Alternators (GTAs) will remain to provide boost power as necessary but will be used less often.

The Type 45's Integrated Electric Propulsion (IEP) system has been beset by problems since build. Operating experience has highlighted a lack of resilience and redundancy in the current power and propulsion arrangement, in large part attributed to the of the poor reliability of the Rolls-Royce WR-21 GTAs, two of which are fitted in each ship.

The PIP changes the original IEP architecture to increase the electrical generation capacity such that the system can deliver cruise speeds (covering the major part of the Type 45 operating profile) on diesels alone.

BAE Systems, leading an industry team comprising BMT and Cammell Laird, was awarded a GBP160 million (USD208 million) firm price contract in March 2018 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to deliver the PIP upgrade.

The original plan was that all six Type 45s would receive the PIP modification at Cammell Laird.

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