HMS Sutherland

The UK Royal Navy’s Type 23 Duke-class vessel HMS Sutherland (F81) is preparing to float for the first time in six months, marking a milestone in its 11-month upgrade and maintenance programme.

Carried out by Babcock at its Devonport Royal Dockyard, the revamp started in November 2013 and is aimed at doubling the working life of the Type 23 frigate and enhancing its sustainability and fighting capability.

Upgrades include the installation of the DNA (2) command system and advanced radar-target indication situational awareness and navigation 3D radar to improve air-defence, anti-ship and air-traffic management capabilities.

As part of the revamp, a new sonar dome has been installed on the bow, in addition to the new Artisan radar system, which provides the operations room team with a more detailed sight of the surrounding area.

"Upgrades include the installation of the DNA (2) command system and advanced radar target indication situational awareness and navigation 3D radar."

The programme also involves the installation of a chloropac system, an upgrade to the high-pressure air system pipework to enable safe, reliable and flexible isolation when needed, underwater inlets and outlets modification to trim down corrosion, and a galley equipment upgrade.

The new paint used on the vessel is reportedly more resistant to marine organisms that attach themselves to the hull.

In addition to a deep maintenance programme, the docking period also involves maintenance and minor upgrades on weapons systems, including the 4.5in gun, and a complete structural survey.

After the scheduled completion of the programme this autumn, the vessel will undergo detailed trials to ensure it is ready for front-line duties.

Image: Babcock engineers carrying out dock inspection. Photo: courtesy of the Royal Navy.

Defence Technology