It’s not only Australia that has problems building warships. Reports from the Old Dart overnight have revealed a quite incredible situation — Britain’s new 1 billion pound (nearly A$2 billion) Type 45 destroyers suffer from heatstroke and can’t operate in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf (or presumably warm waters in Asia or anywhere near the equator) without coming to a halt. For the country that invented “gunboat diplomacy” it is the final insult. A House of Commons Committee heard that the power systems of the six destroyers stop operating in warm waters because the systems were not designed for such operations. The Financial Times reported:

“Executives from BAE SystemsRolls-RoyceNorthrop Grumman and General Electric were grilled by the defence select committee about the failures that have caused the UK’s newest and most advanced destroyers to break down repeatedly in recent years, leaving them without power for propulsion or weapons systems. Responding to questions about why the power systems failed in warmer waters than the UK, John Hudson, managing director of BAE Systems maritime, said the original specifications for the vessel had not required it to sustain extremes. ‘The operating profile at the time was that there would not be repeated or continuous operations in the Gulf,’ he said. Tomas Leahy, of Rolls-Royce naval programmes, said the destroyer was now operating in ‘far more arduous conditions than envisaged in the specifications’.”

The boats are all electric and are powered by a combination of gas turbines and diesel engines. The turbines slow down in warm temperatures, the diesel engines cannot provide sufficient extra power to make up for the shortfall, and the whole system eventually comes to a halt. And what is Britain doing to fix the problem? Cutting holes in the hulls of each of the ships to install two extra diesel engines, making four in total. The cost has not been given, but is expected to be in the tens of millions of pounds. It’s a good thing the “other side” in the Gulf haven’t sent attackers to deal with these gunboats.