The British Royal Navy's amphibious command ship HMS Albion has marked a major milestone in its capability upgrade, as its crew embarked onboard for the first time in nearly six years.
The crew for the voyage comprised approximately 350 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines.
Military support services organisation Babcock have been working on the vessel's multi-million-pound refit at Her Majesty's Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, and have now officially handed the ship over to HMS Albion.
HMS Albion senior naval officer commander Stuart Yates said: “Today is a proud day for the Royal Navy, HMS Albion and Babcock.
“The moving on-board of my ship's company of sailors and Royal Marines marks a pivotal point in HMS Albion's rejuvenation, and confirms that we remain on track to commence operations in 2017.”
The successful upgrade and restoration of HMS Albion is the result of a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) defence equipment and support organisation and strategic partner Babcock.
Babcock HMS Albion project manager James Morton said: “Babcock have undertaken a large package of system, maintenance and engineering upgrades, allowing the ship to be regenerated after a long lay-up period in Devonport.
“We will continue to work closely with the ship’s company to support and maintain her progress towards her next key event of sailing and beyond into future operations.”
The 20,000t ship has required 1.2 million man-hours of work to be prepared for operations thus far, and will be incorporated with more than 110 upgrades before re-entering into service.
HMS Albion will be equipped with an improved propulsion system, with new cooling facilities that will help the vessel operate easily in warmer climates.
It will also feature new combat systems able to manage the upgraded weapons and sensors, including an improved surveillance radar and defensive weapon system.
The Royal Navy vessel is expected to return to sea in the summer of this year after completing final on-deck preparations.
Image: HMS Albion prepares for sea. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.