HMS Westminster

The UK Royal Navy’s HMS Westminster has been floated for the first time in 11 months as part of a major refurbishment programme.

The Type 23 frigate has been undergoing an overhaul since November 2014 at the number 15 dock in Portsmouth Naval Base.

BAE Systems has worked on the hull and machinery systems, and repainted the 23-year-old, Duke-class vessel with ‘go faster’ paint’, which makes it harder for marine species to stick to the ship.

Last week, flood gates were opened after the completion of the outer work.

HMS Westminster senior naval officer lieutenant commander Tim Ciaravella said: "Now the ‘flood up’ has been completed, the full ‘set-to-work’ phase will begin – the ship’s company can start taking responsibility for Westminster’s equipment in preparation for moving onboard

"The ship is now afloat, which sets the context for the intensive training programme ahead and is a significant milestone in this joint venture between the Royal Navy and BAE."

"The ship is now afloat, which sets the context for the intensive training programme ahead."

HMS Westminster is scheduled to return to duties next year, and continue until it is replaced with Type 26 frigates.

With the ship now floating, the Royal Navy and BAE Systems will begin an intensive training programme for the crew.

Originally designed to deal with the Soviet submarine threat, Type 23 frigates have the capacity to accommodate 185 personnel onboard with a maximum speed limit of up to 28k.

The frigates, which are the core of the front-line fleet,are typically stationed to the east of Suez, protecting the UK’s interests in the South Atlantic.

Image: HMS Westminsterbeing flood up. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.