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HMS Dragon breathes fire once more as major refit reaches milestone

9 February 2024
Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon is breathing fire once more and eyeing a return to the fleet in 2024 as work to install new engines reaches a notable milestone.

The Type 45 destroyer has been undergoing major upgrades in Portsmouth since March 2022 and, nearly two years on, one of Dragon’s new engines has been started for the first time as part of critical trials. 

The ship is the latest of her class – after HMS Dauntless and HMS Daring – to go through the Power Improvement Project (PIP), which addresses the resilience of the engines and power generation driving the many hi-tech sensors, systems and weapons on board.

To make the necessary upgrades, the two original diesel engines were removed and replaced with three more reliable, more powerful, cleaner generators.
Ultimately, the ship will be more powerful – 4,000hp to be precise – reliable, greener and ready to embark future weapons. 

Before returning to sea, Dragon is undergoing trials afloat in a non-tidal basin in Portsmouth which test each of three engine installations is correct, integrated effectively into the workings of the ship, can be controlled remotely and, eventually, that they can all work together to power and propel the ship.

Dragon’s Senior Naval Officer, Lieutenant Commander Fiona Stephenson, said: “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.”

Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander James Baddeley added: “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 is the first of the Type 45s to undergo PIP in Portsmouth, with HMS Dauntless and HMS Daring’s work taking place at Cammell Laird.

HMS Dauntless returned to the Fleet at the beginning of last year, deploying to the Caribbean to support British Overseas Territories during hurricane season and counter drugs trafficking in the region. Her successful actions on that deployment underscored the success of the major engine upgrades.

PIP is being delivered under a major design and manufacture contract between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, and delivered in collaboration with BMT Defence services and Cammell Laird.

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