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WR-21 engine selected for Royal Navy type 45 destroyers

Rolls-Royce plc and Northrop Grumman have been selected as the preferred suppliers of the gas turbines for the first three ships of a new fleet of air defence destroyers for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. The two companies expect to conclude negotiations with the prime contractor, BAE SYSTEMS, in the next few weeks.

Rolls-Royce has followed a consistent strategy of investing in its marine capabilities and this decision is a significant boost for the company which has enlarged its interests in the sector following the acquisition of Vickers in 1999.

The Rolls-Royce/Northrop Grumman team, supported by French marine engineering company DCN, will supply the intercooled and recuperated WR-21 marine gas turbine for the first three new Type 45 `D' class destroyers. A class of up to 12 vessels is planned.

The Type 45s will replace the Royal Navy's long-serving Type 42 destroyers and are due to enter service in 2007.

Dr Saul Lanyado, President - Marine, for Rolls-Royce, said: "This is a highly significant breakthrough for the WR-21. The engine has considerable export potential and we believe there will be a lot of interest from other navies around the world.

"Rolls-Royce pioneered gas turbine power for the Royal Navy in 1953 and has continued to supply and support the service's gas turbines ever since. British ships will now be the first to benefit from the next generation of fuel-efficient marine gas turbines, specifically developed for naval applications."

The WR-21 is currently being qualified for US Navy applications in conjunction with the Royal Navy and French Navy at the DCN Indret facility, near Nantes, in France.

Jim Hupton, Vice President of Northrop Grumman Marine Systems, said: "The innovative and proven intercooled and recuperated engine, designed and developed by Northrop Grumman and Rolls-Royce, will bring a new generation product to the marine environment."

Rated at 25 megawatts, the WR-21 marine gas turbine is the culmination of a nine-year, £300 million development programme funded by the US, British and French navies. It is based on the highly successful Rolls-Royce RB211 and Trent families of commercial aircraft engines which have amassed more than 40 million flight hours. WR-21 is fuel efficient compared to simple cycle engines across the power range and modularity simplifies maintenance and support.


  • The WR-21 is a revolutionary advance in gas turbine technology. It can offer up to 30 per cent reduction in fuel burn compared to existing simple cycle gas turbines for typical ship operating profiles.
  • It is designed to power the next generation of naval surface platforms.
  • The WR-21 has been designed, tested and built under a tri-national agreement.
  • Since 1991 more than £300 million has been invested in the programme by the US, British and French navies.
  • All routine scheduled maintenance can be performed by the ship's personnel and is minimised in line with future requirements for unmanned engine rooms. The gas generator and power turbine consist of 12 interchangeable pre-balanced modules for easier maintenance and reduced spares holding.
  • The WR-21, on introduction into service, will have exceeded more than 5,000 hours of endurance running and shock testing equivalent to 25,000 hours normal warship operation, well in excess of that for the Rolls-Royce Tyne, Olympus and Spey engines on first entering service.


  • With an initial displacement of some 7,200 tonnes the new destroyers will be the largest built for the Royal Navy since the Tiger class cruisers of the 1941 programme.
  • The vessels are 152.5 metres long, are capable of 28 knots and have a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 18 knots. They will have a complement of 187 sailors.
  • It is planned that the first and third ships will be assembled by BAE SYSTEMS at Yarrow with the second by Vosper Thorneycroft at Portsmouth.
  • The first two ships of the D Class will be called HMS DARING and the second HMS DAUNTLESS.
  • The last of the Type 45s will enter service in 2014 and the total cost including weapons systems is estimated to be £6 billion.
  • They replace the existing force of 11 Type 42 destroyers which entered service between the mid 1970s and mid 1980s.
  • The destroyers signal a break in traditional UK shipbuilding practice, with sections of the ships being built and outfitted at different sites and then brought together for final assembly.
  • The main armament will be the Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) capable of controlling several missiles in the air at any time.
  • Type 45s will also carry either the Merlin Mark 1 anti-submarine helicopter or the Lynx Mark 8 helicopter which are both powered by Rolls-Royce.
  • The Type 45 introduces Integrated Electrical Propulsion into the Royal Navy for the first time.

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Note to Editors:

Rolls-Royce plc is a global company providing power on land, sea and air. It is the world leader in marine power systems with a broad product range and full systems integration capability. Over 2,000 marine customers and more than 30 navies use Rolls-Royce propulsion.

SOURCE Rolls-Royce

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