The UK Royal Navy’s Duke-class or Type 23 frigate, HMS Iron Duke, has entered the final phase of a life extension programme.

A ceremonial ‘Raising of the Colours’ was hosted by the ship’s company, Babcock International, to mark the return of its crew of around 160 sailors onboard.

The vessel is currently stationed in the basin at Frigate Refit Complex at HMNB Devonport in Plymouth, UK.

Babcock and the ship’s crew will work together to complete this refit work before Iron Duke’s scheduled return to the sea in February next year. 

HMS Iron Duke commanding officer Charlie Wheen said: “This is an exciting milestone; first step on our journey back to sea and moment we start breathing life back into the ship.

“We are reminded today of HMS Iron Duke’s proud heritage, and it is a great privilege to be the custodians of her future.”  

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Work on Iron Duke is being conducted to ensure that the Duke-class frigate features current capabilities and systems to undertake modern naval warfare operations.

These include various communication/navigation upgrades, the installation of Sea Ceptor air defence missile system and preparing the ship to carry future anti-surface guided weapons such as Martlet and Sea Venom.

HMS Iron Duke is the first frigate to benefit from Operation Baton, which involves the transfer of crew from a ship that is starting maintenance work to another ship that is nearing completion.

In the current scenario, HMS Argyll’s crew members were transferred to support HMS Iron Duke. Argyll’s refit work began in August this year.

Babcock Marine Support business managing director Gary Simpson said: “We’re delighted to see the crew return to (HMS Iron Duke) and we’re looking forward to working with them as we support the final phase of her upkeep and commissioning before she heads out for sea trials.”