Type 23 Life Extension Programme

Sustaining the core of the Royal Navy’s front line fleet 

Babcock is extending the operational life of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Class Frigates to operate well beyond their original design life expectancy.

Working with the Royal Navy through the Surface Ship Support Alliance, we are ensuring that the Type 23 Class remains relevant against today’s threat, and de-risking its future transition.

Entering service for the first time in 1989, the Type 23 Frigate has proven itself a highly capable platform. With its replacement, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, not set to enter service until later this decade, the Type 23 Class must operate beyond its original design life.

Working closely with our customer to understand their requirements, and collaborating with the other members of the Alliance, we ensure successful delivery of the Type 23 Life Extension (LIFEX) programme, maximising platform availability.

At a glance:

  • Type 23s entered service in 1989 for anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic
  • Royal Navy identified need to extend the operational life of the Type 23 Class frigates
  • In 2015, the life extension programme started at Babcock’s Devonport facility
  • Babcock offers through-life platform management, globally
  • In 2022, the first post-life extension upkeep began on HMS Argyll

Delivering through-life platform management

Type 23 LIFEX programme upkeeps take place at our Devonport facility, with capability updates including the replacement of the primary weapon system, major upgrade to marine equipment and changes to address equipment obsolescence. Our teams also carry out extensive work to extend the life of the hull and superstructure.

Our support doesn’t stop when the vessel leaves our facility, as we provide adaptable through-life platform management, whenever and wherever it’s needed. With class output management we offer support solutions globally, in water or in a nearby location, to maximise platform availability.

First post-life extension upkeep

In the Summer of 2022, we started a post-life extension on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll at our Devonport facility. It is the first Type 23 to undergo a post-LIFEX upkeep, adopting a new innovative approach to re-certification at the facility’s Frigate Support Centre.

Our experts will overhaul equipment and carry out design changes for new capabilities such as communications upgrades and mixed crewing. The Duke Class frigate will also receive a full spray coat of paint on the outer bottom and ship side.

Commissioned in 1991, HMS Argyll is the longest-serving Type 23 frigate and was the first to undergo upkeep within the LIFEX programme in 2015. After she returned to the Royal Navy in 2017 Babcock has continued to deliver the Type 23 life-extension programme across the fleet.

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