Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland has left Devonport Royal Dockyard to start sea trials, following a successful support period (Standard Support Period Docking, or SSP(D)) by Babcock, completed on-time and in-budget, which has significantly increased the ship's sustainability and fighting capability.
The refit has been challenging with a complex programme of work (including 13 upgrades) undertaken within a tightly scheduled nine month period. It has benefited significantly from Babcock's experience gained from previous Type 23 docking periods, and from the close and effective partnering relationship between Babcock, the MoD, and ship's staff. This has enabled the programme to be undertaken with maximum efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and safety, to deliver optimum value for money.
HMS Northumberland leaves Devonport with a number of upgrades and improvements. These include the new DNA(2) Command System (central to the ship's capability against air, surface and underwater threats); installation of the Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)); the SeaWolf mid-life update (SWMLU) comprising tracking, guidance and weapon management upgrades to counter evolving anti-ship missile threats; the new automatic small calibre gun; NATO radial filters to protect fresh air supplies; and a new sophisticated digital incident detection system; as well as service area improvements including a galley equipment upgrade, and a number of mechanical upgrades.
The docking period has also encompassed a full programme of deep maintenance. In total the 250,000 manhour SSP(D) has involved the overhaul of 900 items of equipment, installation of 20 km of cable, and application of 10,000 litres of paint.
Commenting on the refit, Babcock project manager Jim Hart said: "This has been a challenging project, particularly with a significant amount of emergent work on the upper deck and during the commissioning programme. We are delighted to have delivered successfully on-schedule and to cost and quality, with a number of improvements and in the best possible material condition to perform her operational duties."
SFM Program Manager, Surface Combatants, Tim Geary said: "This has been a challenging project, but strong working relationships have enabled the partnership to deliver the ship ready to undertake her trials on time and on budget. The project is on track to deliver the ship back into service in December after completion of sea trials."
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