Currently reading: Full 'road test' - HMS Diamond
£1 billion

Every Christmas Autocar road tests a vehicle with a difference, and few have been more impressive than HMS Diamond, a Type 45 destroyer.

HMS Diamond is the third of six Type 45 Daring Class destroyers ordered by the Ministry of Defence and being delivered to the Royal Navy.

See the HMS Diamond pictures here

To find out just how good the ship is we climbed on board during sea trials, toured the ship, experienced her capabilities and even took a turn at the wheel.

Below are some of the highlights of the test:

Design and engineering

HMS Diamond's radar and missile systems are dubbed Sea Viper, a system so advanced that if she was moored next to HMS Belfast in London, it could monitor all flights out of Gatwick, Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schipol and Birmingham airports and assess each one's threat level within a second.

If it did detect a threat, it could fire a missile that reaches Mach 3 within two seconds, pulls 60g and has the ability to intercept a cricket ball-sized object, also travelling at three times the speed of sound.


Junior ratings sleep six to a cabin, but even so they'll have more space than they'd traditionally expect on a ship, with room to sit up in bed, a power socket, pinboard and some storage for personal belongings.

As is traditional, senior ratings get their own cabins, but these, too, are more accommodating than usual. Recreation areas - three for junior ratings, three for senior ratings - are larger and better equipped than ever before too.


Two Rolls-Royce WR-21 gas turbines usually provide the main propulsion. They're too wide to sit side by side so are offset behind each other down the ship's centre line. Each unit produces up to 28,830bhp, while there are also two smaller diesel generators. Remarkably, though, a Type 45 can stop in only five ship lengths.

Ride and handling

We can't think of anything quite so breathtaking as when HMS Diamond's pilot wound her onto full lock at 30 knots. Initially Diamond feels like she'll corner like a speedboat, before inertia takes hold and she starts to roll outwards, her masts falling away from the corner. We are told she leans by 15 degrees, but on the flight deck it feels like a heck of a lot more than that. The waterline falls a long way from her inside corner and rises so close to the outside that, even in calm seas, spray washes on to the deck.

Buying and owning

The total cost for the Royal Navy's Type 45s is now forecast to be £6.46 billion. Once equipped, though, a Type 45 will have a prolonged service life of probably more than 30 years, including a mid-life refit.

The full test verdict is available in Autocar magazine, on sale now.

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Amanitin 28 December 2009

Re: Full road test - HMS Diamond

ronmcdonald wrote:
It cost HOW MUCH? £6.46 billion... Oh my God!

that's the cost of the whole procurement program. Includes six ships. Slightly above a billion per ship.

eseaton 28 December 2009

Re: Full road test - HMS Diamond

And Autocar will review it as "BREAKING NEWS..."

FriendlyFisherman 27 December 2009

Re: Full road test - HMS Diamond

Give it 6 months and one of those German tuning companies will tweak the engines up to 30,000bhp, fit an awful body kit and paint a big gold stripe down the side.