Haynes here present a first class, and extraordinarily comprehensive, description of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyer, covering its genesis, design, development, building, construction, hull, machinery, weapons systems and operation. The author is ex-RCNC and BAE and was part of the T45 design team. This is the real thing, produced with the support of the RN, the MoD and BAE and with contributions from these and a galaxy of suppliers and contractors. These have also provided information for the author’s own pertinent and clear diagrams and drawings. I had the considerable privilege of a brief tour of a T45 a couple of months ago. I now understand what I was seeing.
The T45 design is a culmination of the RN’s continuing attempt to do things with fewer hands, which started in the Fifties with the Tiger class cruisers. Its combat system also embodies the latest take on computerised Threat Evaluation and Weapon Allocation, which stumbled to sea in HMS Eagle in 1964 using computers housed in cabinets the size of wardrobes. For the back history of this, see:
This is a distinctly clever ship with (to me) extraordinarily high levels of automation. The numerous and complicated control systems involved are very clearly described, at a level of detail which is surprising (but I expect the Russians and Chinese know all this stuff already). There are omissions, and sometimes the use of superlatives substitutes for quantification, which is perhaps prudent.
It is instructive to note how long the development cycle has been for some of the systems, as evidenced by the Combat Management System being based on Windows 2000. It also uses UNIX with its 1972 origins. Elsewhere parallel processing is used which was pioneered in the UK in the 1980s via the Inmos Transputer at about the time Stanford was pioneering the associated neural network computing.
All aspects of the hull, power generation, propulsive machinery and supporting systems for these and for personnel are fully described. Those who have slung in passageways will marvel at the accommodation where the reduction in bodies has allowed uncharacteristic thought for comfort, perhaps in the interest of retaining today’s very highly skilled and expensively trained sailor.
Very occasionally a nautical or other infelicity has escaped the editorial process. Otherwise I was not just interested, I was enthralled, albeit having to refer fairly frequently to the page of decodes for abbreviations. The section on operation is a primer on modern above-water warfare which is hard to beat. As to the future, although the text concentrates - very informatively - on near-term possibilities in terms of weapons, communication and aviation, it is clear that the threat is already evolving. Space in the ship, and thought, have been given to the evolution of these ships during their thirty-year life cycle. The only pertinent summary would be ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet’.
This book has so many virtues. It will help to bring any retired sailor up to date on the 21st century Royal Navy, but it will also have value for anyone appointed or drafted to a Daring, and indeed for anyone serving in a T45 who wants to understand their ship beyond their own departmental horizons. I can see it being studied with absorbing interest in the St Petersburg Naval Institute and wherever the PLA(N) train their officers. The book also sends out a message to enemies - ‘Don’t even try’. It is sad of course that, while our Government continues to throw money way abroad, the enormous effort, innovation and expense that has gone into the T45 development, infrastructure and testing is spread over so few ships.