Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond is to receive extensive upgrades and improvements during an upgrade and maintenance programme to be undertaken by Babcock at the company's Devonport Royal Dockyard. The docking period will draw on experience from previous successful Type 23 refits and the close partnering relationship between Babcock and the MoD.
An affordable, comprehensive work specification has been developed, and production process improvements introduced, capitalising on Babcock's valuable experience and lessons learnt from previous Type 23 docking periods including HMS Westminster and, currently, HMS Northumberland, to ensure that HMS Richmond's 10 month upgrade and maintenance programme will be delivered with optimised efficiency and at minimised cost.
Following the signing of the contract last month, HMS Richmond has now arrived in Devonport, where tank cleaning activities were undertaken in readiness for docking this week, as well as early surveys and pre-upkeep load trials, to confirm the full extent of the work required.
Key work to be undertaken includes extensive improvements to the venting system providing even distribution of fresh air, which will significantly improve habitability for the crew on board. The Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)), to provide an information sharing and collaborative working capability across the Armed Forces and MoD, is also to be installed, involving extensive installation of power and data cables throughout the ship. A number of upgrades are also being undertaken to key weapon and communications systems, among them the DNA(2) Command System (which requires the linking of every weapons system onboard and involves a large set to work package); upgrades to 30mm Automatic Small Calibre Guns; and the SeaWolf Mid Life Update (SWMLU) which will provide an enhanced capability to the existing system to counter an evolving anti-ship missile threat.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said: "This refit work will see HMS Richmond follow previous Type 23 frigates in benefiting from a range of essential upgrades that will maintain her at peak effectiveness. These frigates continue to form the backbone of the Royal Navy's ability to deploy worldwide in defence of the UK's interests."
The upkeep period is a challenging one due to the number of capability upgrades and the extensive outer bottom hull repair and represervation programme.
Commenting on the project, Babcock's Warship Support Head of Operations, Devonport, Mike Weeks, said: "Our close working relationship with the MoD Surface Combatants project team and extensive experience gained from similar successful projects on HMS Westminster and HMS Northumberland will be key to delivering this upgrade and maintenance programme on HMS Richmond successfully, safely and at optimum value for money. We look forward to returning her to quality, in-budget, and on-schedule."
Peter Mercier, MoD Project Contract Manager (SFM), commented: "We look forward to continuing to build on the excellent working relationship with Babcock from the previous upkeeps."
HMS Richmond will return to the fleet in summer 2012.
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