BAE Systems has been awarded a contract to replace the 30-year-old propulsion systems onboard the Royal Navy’s eight Hunt Class mine countermeasure vessels.

The £15m equipment procurement contract involves the installation of new engines, gearboxes, bow thruster systems, propellers and machinery control systems to improve operational availability and reliability of the ships.

BAE mine warfare marine engineering manager John Walton said the new propulsion and machinery control system has been designed to reduce maintenance load and increase availability of the vessel for operational duties.

BAE Hunt repropulsion project manager Mark Draper said the upgrade work would be carried out over the next six years at the company’s facilities in Portsmouth, UK.

The first new propulsion system will be installed onboard HMS Chiddingfold in late 2011, with upgrades to the remaining seven vessels taking place up to 2016.