Naval vessels need to operate in all conditions, from heavy storms to freezing waters to fair winds and following seas. But for the British Royal Navy, its advanced Type 45 guided-missile destroyers are having a hard time managing the warm, almost idyllic conditions of the Persian Gulf.
It seems that the water's too hot for the turbines on the six Type 45s in the Gulf, and that's causing problems with the turbines, leading to power shortages. According to official testimony to a UK House of Commons defense committee, BAE Systems' managing director of maritime operations, John Hudson, said, "We have found in the Gulf that it takes the gas turbine generator bit into an area that is sub-optimal for the generator, and we also found that the cooling system created condensation within the drive units, which caused faults, and that caused electrical failures as well."
Tomas Leahy, Rolls-Royce's naval director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, explained that the company's turbines met a specification "which was the same specification that was applied across the whole system," but blamed the changing conditions in the Gulf for the problems.
"Are the conditions experienced in the Gulf in line with that specification? No, they are not," Leahy said. "The equipment is having to operate in far more arduous conditions that were initially required by that specification."
The Persian Gulf has the bad luck of being extremely shallow – its average depth is a mere 160 feet, according to Wikipedia – and located in one of the hottest parts of the planet. That means the water is almost bath like, ranging anywhere from 75 to 90 degrees, according to Gizmodo. The UK testimony didn't indicate what the temperature specification was for the Type 45s.
Part of the blame, at least according to Gizmodo, goes to global climate change. According to the site, the surge in the Persian Gulf's temperature can be blamed on a heat dome over the region that caused the air on Iran's southwestern coast to feel like 165 degrees. As the site puts it – in less polite terms – perhaps the danger posed to the Type 45s will be enough for the UK to take climate change even more seriously.