Babcock has started upgrade and improvement works on the UK Royal Navy’s Type 23 Duke-class frigate HMS Montrose, at its Devonport Royal Dockyard.

Work under the 15-month refit programme involves a range of upgrades and improvements, including replacing the vessel’s radar 996 with Artisan 3D medium range radar 997, a midlife update to its vertical launch Seawolf and the deployment of automatic small calibre guns.

Babcock will also install a chloropac system, which will help reduce the growth of marine in the pipe system. An upgrade to the pressure air systems will enable safer system isolation.

Babcock Warships managing director Mike Whalley said: "Among the challenges involved in this refit is the completion of the major dry blast and painting programme (involving almost total renewal of the ship’s paint coatings from the water line up), while completing other maintenance and upgrade work within the necessary timescales, requiring careful scheduling and programme management.

"This will include the 100% removal of the dock blocks to allow survey and painting of the hull, using an innovative hydraulic lifting process, which was successfully used for the first time on a Type 23 earlier this year on HMS Monmouth."

"The upkeep of HMS Montrose is a significant milestone in the ship’s life."

As part of the deep maintenance phase of the programme, the shipping firm will inspect the vessel’s rudders, replace the shaft, repair or replace all hull valves and revalidate the hull and structures. Babcock will also restore high and low pressure air compressors and undertake a massive represervation programme.

Type 23 Frigate team leader captain Giulian Hill said: "The upkeep of HMS Montrose is a significant milestone in the ship’s life.

"It provides an important opportunity for reinvestment in the ship’s material state, which will be delivered under the successful partnership between the MoD (Ministry of Defence) and Babcock."

The HMS Montrose is scheduled to start sea trials and join the fleet in early 2016.

With a capacity to carry a 185-member crew, the Type 23 Duke-class frigates have been designed to provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capabilities.

Image: The UK Royal Navy’s Type 23 Duke-class frigate HMS Montrose. Photo: courtesy of POA Mick Storey.

Defence Technology