A billion-pound Royal Navy warship has been towed from its home base for a multi-million pound engine refit which, with other maintenance, has left it stuck alongside for four years.

HMS Daring was watched by members of the public as it left Portsmouth Naval Base for its journey to the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead where the power improvement plan (PIP) upgrade will take place.

All six of the Type 45 air defence destroyers are set to undergo the replacement of their power and propulsion systems which have failed in some of the ships in the class of vessels which the navy has described as “state of the art”.

HMS Daring being towed from Portsmouth Naval Base for the multi-million pound engine refit (Ben Mitchell/PA)

It is understood that Daring is being towed to Birkenhead as this is the most efficient method and best value for money.

The upgrade is expected to be completed by 2023. Daring was last at sea in 2017 for patrols in the Gulf as part of Operation Kipion.

During the deployment, Daring travelled 50,000 miles, visiting 12 countries and undertook 20 patrols of the Bab-al-Mandeb strait to reassure merchant vessels and keep the sea lanes open for trade.

In July 2021, HMS Defender, which was at the centre of a diplomatic row with Russia following a voyage off the Crimean peninsula, was the only vessel of the class without an issue.

HMS Daring under tow from Portsmouth Naval Base (Ben Mitchell/PA)

Commons Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood suggested at the time that the situation was “operationally unacceptable”.

The other five Type 45s were alongside for planned maintenance or because of problems developed at sea.

HMS Diamond suffered a mechanical issue with its engine forcing it to temporarily abandon its deployment with the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Daring returns to Portsmouth Naval Base
HMS Daring returning to Portsmouth Naval Base in 2017 following its nine-month deployment to the Gulf (Ben Mitchell/PA)

It has now returned to sea after six weeks alongside to rejoin Defender and the Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

As well as Daring, Duncan is undergoing “deep maintenance”, Dauntless has been upgraded and is due to return to sea for trials this year and Dragon is undergoing “planned maintenance”.