Royal Navy frigate, destroyer prepare for return to operations after upgrades

HMS Defender on sea trials. Photo: Royal Navy

Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth has welcomed back Type 23 frigate HMS Kent and Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender as they returned from refits and upgrades.

Both have received command and control systems and weaponry upgrades over the last 18 months.

HMS Defender was formally welcomed back into the fleet last week by Commodore Craig Wood, Commander of the Portsmouth Flotilla, after a series of trials to prove her upgrades was declared a success.

The destroyer received two new gas turbines, as well as new signals intelligence and surveillance equipment.

Commanding officer of HMS Defender, Commander Richard Hewitt, said, “I am incredibly proud to have taken HMS Defender to sea for the first time in 18 months thanks to the hard work of Team Portsmouth, BAE Systems, and my ship’s company.

“With a number of major capability upgrades, HMS Defender is now the most capable Type 45 in the fleet.”

HMS Kent will soon re-take her place in the fleet alongside the other anti-submarine warfare frigates, and both she and HMS Defender could later take roles in future Royal Navy strike groups to protect Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers from attacks above or below the surface.

Kent sailed back into her home port of Portsmouth this week after returning from her overhaul by Babcock in Devonport, Plymouth.

As well as a new command system, she was fitted with the Sea Ceptor missile system, replacing Sea Wolf, to enhance the frigate’s lethality under the threat of airborne attacks.

Now back home, HMS Kent will undergo a series of trials to test the equipment before re-joining the fleet as an operational ship.

Commanding Officer of HMS Kent Commander Andrew Brown said, “It has been a significant challenge taking HMS Kent from upkeep to successful sea trials and returning to her base port after 18 months away.

“The effort and achievement from a highly professional and dedicated ship’s company has been remarkable and I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved. The upkeep has improved our capabilities and HMS Kent is, and will be, an extremely capable warship for many years.”

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