The undocking of amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s largest ship, at the end of July marked an important milestone in the extensive 15 month deep maintenance period being carried out by Babcock. The upkeep programme is the largest on a Royal Navy warship in Devonport for over 20 years, and is the first on an amphibious ship under the full implementation of the Surface Ship Support Alliance (SSSA) Class Output Management (COM) approach, under which Babcock leads the support of all amphibious vessels.
This latest significant milestone, achieved on-schedule after seven months in dock, comes about half way through the programme. The massive upkeep period is around three times the size of a typical Type 23 docking period, with the programme including over 60 upgrades, significant mechanical improvements including two major system installations, a number of other substantial work packages such as represervation work, plus a full programme of deep maintenance.
Among the alteration and addition packages are the new 997 Medium Range Radar system; four 30mm Automated Small Calibre Gun Systems to replace existing 20mm guns (involving installation of over 20,000 metres of power and control cabling); a new fire detection system; the Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)) enabling information sharing and collaborative working across the Armed Forces and MoD; and the DNA(2) Command System – the ‘brain’ of the ship and central to its fighting capability against air and surface threats.
Additionally, the two major system installations include a first-of-class Membrane Bio-Reactor (MBR) system which treats waste water and sewage to permit discharge at sea, and a further first-of-class ballast water treatment system. These will ensure the ship is compliant with new environmental legislation regarding treatment of ballast water and black and grey water discharges and able to operate anywhere in the world.
Further substantial work packages to be undertaken, in addition to the full programme of deep maintenance, include major represervation work (renewing the flight deck, superstructure and hull coatings, plus machinery space and internal compartment painting), and upgrades and improvements to living quarters including mess and recreational areas, cabins and bathrooms, as well as improvements to the laundry and sick bay complex. In all the programme will employ an average of 300 Babcock employees plus staff from over 70 contractor companies.
HMS Ocean went into dock in December 2012, in the newly developed 10 Dock facility in Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard, which has undergone a significant investment and refurbishment programme to provide a first class facility to service the UK’s amphibious fleet. The undocking milestone last month (July 2013) marked the completion of the dock-dependent elements, and work will now continue on the ship alongside. Ship’s staff will move on board in early November, and this highly capable warship is expected to leave Devonport for sea trials in early 2014.
Press Release, August 7, 2013; Image: Royal Navy