The Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon is poised for a return to operational duty in 2024 following a significant upgrade as part of the Power Improvement Project (PIP).

The initiative aims to resolve longstanding issues with the propulsion and power generation systems that have affected the Type 45 fleet, especially under challenging conditions.

Since March 2022, HMS Dragon has been docked in Portsmouth undergoing extensive modifications. This work includes the replacement of its original diesel engines with three new, more efficient, and powerful generators. This upgrade not only enhances the destroyer’s operational reliability and performance but also contributes to a greener footprint.

The PIP, a critical response to the technical difficulties encountered by the Type 45 destroyers, including electrical problems and power outages in hot climates, has reached a notable milestone with HMS Dragon. The successful start-up of one of the new engines marks a significant step towards the ship’s readiness for sea trials and eventual reintegration into the fleet.

Lieutenant Commander James Baddeley said “It is really exciting to see the PIP installation coming to life to increase the capability of the platform, the successful first start is testament to all the hard work which has gone into the design and installation onboard.”

HMS Dragon’s upgrades include not just the engine replacements but also the integration of these systems to ensure they work harmoniously to power the vessel’s advanced sensors, weapons, and other systems. These trials in Portsmouth will confirm the correct installation and remote controllability of the engines.

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Lieutenant Commander Fiona Stephenson, HMS Dragon’s Senior Naval Officer, expressed pride in the team’s efforts and excitement for the ship’s forthcoming capabilities. “The inaugural roar of Dragon’s new engines marked the beginning of the next chapter in our return to the fleet.

I am proud of the hard work of our marine engineering team and industry partners and look forward to delivering as one team as we breathe fire into Dragon.”

Other Type 45 destroyers, all known for their advanced air defence capabilities, have been slated for further enhancements, including the integration of an additional missile silo and upgrades to the Sea Viper missile system for ballistic missile defence.

HMS Dauntless, having undergone similar upgrades, demonstrated the PIP’s effectiveness with successful deployments, including humanitarian assistance and counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean.

The PIP is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, BMT Defence Services, and Cammell Laird, marking a significant investment in the future readiness and capability of the Royal Navy’s air defence fleet.

Additional reporting from Richard Thomas.