Hundreds of guests turned out to mark HMS St Albans’ return to frontline service following a £25m upgrade.
Families of crew members and dignitaries from the ship’s namesake town attended a rededication ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base today (August 1).
Principal guest was Lady Suzie Essenhigh – the ship’s sponsor who launched the vessel in 2002.
The Type 23 frigate spent 15 months in refit and now has a new main gun and upgraded Seawolf missile system. The overhaul, carried out by BAE Systems in Portsmouth, also included a new command and control computer system, upgraded IT equipment, a new galley and improvements to crew accommodation.
The ship’s Commanding Officer, Commander Catherine Jordan, said: “I am really proud of what my ship’s company have achieved in 12 weeks of sea trials. Our ceremony was about marking the handback of the ship to the Royal Navy and also about our families and their ongoing support to us.
“The work carried out in HMS St Albans will stand her in good stead for her long future and will maintain her reputation that is within the best traditions of the Royal Navy.”
During the hour-long ceremony the 150 crew members paraded in front of the new-look ship and Lady Essenhigh inspected a ceremonial guard of honour.
A service of rededication was conducted by Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet the Venerable Ian Wheatley, Sub-Dean of St Albans Cathedral the Reverend Canon Richard Watson and the ship’s chaplain the Reverend Eddie Willis. Music was provided by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.
Among the ship’s company taking part in the ceremony was Able Seaman Michael Nolan, 20, from Codicote near St Albans. He joined the Navy on leaving Oaklands College, St Albans, and has been on board the ship for just six weeks.
He said: “Serving on board what I consider to be my home home-town warship is a great honour and makes today even more special. It has been hard work getting the ship ready for the ceremony but it has been worth it and I am looking forward to getting to sea.”
After summer leave HMS St Albans will carry out operational sea training off the UK coast until the end of the year.
Press Release, August 1, 2014; Image: Navy