Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland left Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard for sea trials yesterday, 24 March.
The vessel has increased structural sustainability and fighting capability, as part of a significant upgrade and substantial maintenance programme by Babcock, including extensive improvements.
HMS Sutherland’s refit, undertaken under the Surface Ship Support Alliance (an alliance between Ministry of Defence, Babcock and BAE Systems) Class Output Management (COM) arrangements, has seen industry take the lead on the content and optimisation of the package to provide the necessary through-life availability and capability.
Having now left Devonport to undergo several weeks sea trials as the next phase in the upkeep period, HMS Sutherland is scheduled to return the fleet in late spring, marking completion of the upkeep.
HMS Sutherland has undergone a full structural repair and strengthening programme following a structural survey of the ship and an unprecedented dry blast ‘back to bare’ programme for the superstructure and upper deck. This has included new sections and steel upgrades to the hull and superstructure which has significantly de-risked the platform for future operation.
Upgrades to the ship have included installation of the DNA(2) Command System (central to the ship’s capability against air, surface and underwater threats), and the Artisan (Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation) 3D Radar Type 997 (improving the ship’s air-defence, anti-ship and air traffic management capabilities), as well as the chloropac system (improving performance in the ship’s sea water cooling systems by preventing or reducing marine growth) including modification to the underwater inlets and outlets to reduce corrosion, an upgrade to the high pressure air system pipework (providing safe, reliable and flexible isolation when required), and a galley equipment upgrade, among others.
The deep maintenance programme has also included removal of rudders and stabilisers along with a programme of maintenance on the propeller shafts and associated bearings, overhaul of the helicopter handling system (PRISM), a complete overhaul or renewal of all underwater and shipside valves and numerous pumps and motors from various ship systems, replacement of laundry equipment and of the sonar bow dome, and overhaul of refrigeration and fresh water systems. A programme of maintenance and minor upgrades on weapons systems including the 4.5 inch gun has also been included, as well as full renewal of the ship’s paint coatings from the water line up following the extensive blast programme.
Image: Royal Navy