A multi-million pound refit has been carried out on Portsmouth-based Type 23 Frigate HMS Westminster. Her extensive maintenance period, as part of the £600 million Maritime Services Delivery Framework (MSDF), has been carried out by a team of more than 800 people at Portsmouth Naval Base.
The upkeep programme on the 24-year-old Duke Class frigate has followed several busy years of deployments across the globe and includes upgrades to weapons and marine systems that will enhance her warfighting capabilities for years ahead.
The improvements to HMS Westminster include the installation of BAE Systems’ Artisan 3D radar, which can monitor more than 800 objects simultaneously from 200 to 200,000 metres away, and the Sea-Ceptor air defence weapon system which will protect against aerial threats. She has also been installed with a refurbished 4.5 inch MK8 naval gun which can fire up to two dozen high explosive shells per minute to combat surface, aircraft, and shore targets. Additionally, HMS Westminster’s hull has received a coat of anti-fouling paint, providing protection from algae and marine organism growth on operations.
Structural improvements include replacing the bridge, upgrading the galley and refurbishing mess decks and communal areas for the ship’s Company, who recently moved back on board.
HMS Westminster will now undergo a series of harbour-based and sea trials ahead of an anticipated return to service in spring 2017.
Richard Dingley, Fleet Services director at BAE Systems, said: “HMS Westminster’s upkeep programme confirms the company’s ship support capabilities and sustains the Royal Navy’s desire for the long term availability of their ships. We are continuing to deliver support to more than half of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet. This includes technical services, training solutions and modernisation programmes, as well as maintenance, repair and upgrades to ships and equipment. Our attention will now focus on returning to the fleet as an operational warship next year.”
HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Simon Kelly, said: “HMS Westminster is emerging from an extended refit period as one of the most capable surface ships in the Royal Navy. She has benefited from a number of significant upgrades many of which the Royal Navy will invest in the future Type 26 Frigate. The partnership with BAE Systems throughout this period has been excellent, for which I thank all of the team.”