Babcock achieves Ready For Sea Date on HMS Somerset

HMS SOMERSET RETURN TO SEA HMS Somerset has let go her berthing lines and headed out to sea for the first time in nearly four years as the frigate emerged from refit. After more than one million hours of work by skilled engineers, technicians and shipwrights, the warship left Plymouth today as the latest ship in her 12-strong class to complete a massive overhaul – known as LIFEX (life extension). MoD and Royal Navy personnel alongside industrial partners, Babcock, have delivered the extensive package of improvements which started at Babcock’s Devonport facility in November 2018. She has undergone repairs, received updates and structural improvements to her hull and living spaces including replacement of her Sea Wolf air defence missiles with the latest Sea Ceptor system. Additional upgrades to key electronic equipment, including communications, navigation and computer systems have been undertaken, ensuring the ship can operate against the latest threats well into the next decade. Diesel generators have been replaced and the remainder of the propulsion system received an enhanced clean. Other key ancillary systems have been overhauled and updated. The work allows these workhorses of the Fleet – designed in the 1980s and originally intended to serve for around 18 years – to remain in the vanguard of naval warfare until their successor Type 26 and 31 frigates begin entering service later this decade and into the mid-2030s. To mark the revamp’s completion, the project team waved off the Duke-class warship and her crew as she departed Devonport.

Babcock International Group, the aerospace, defence and security company, has achieved Ready for Sea Date for the Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset at Babcock’s Devonport facility.

HMS Somerset started her extensive overhaul at Babcock’s Devonport facility in November 2018. During that time, she has undergone a significant upkeep, which has included repairs and updates to her hull and living spaces, replacement of her Sea Wolf with the new Sea Ceptor weapon system and improvements to key electronic equipment. In addition to this, HMS Somerset’s project team have completed the replacement of her four diesel generators, an enhanced propulsion motor clean and over 500 structural inserts, with the overall project surpassing one million hours of work.

The project team welcomed ship staff back on board at the end of last year and have since completed the final stages of commissioning, before handing her back to the Royal Navy to carry out sea trials.

Gary Simpson, Managing Director of Babcock’s Marine Support Business, said: “Our support to the Type 23 class draws on our experience and unique engineering expertise to update and upgrade these frigates and deliver them back to the Royal Navy with the capability they need to successfully operate beyond their original design life.

“I am really proud of our teams for completing another major overhaul of a Type 23 frigate, as part of the life extension programme, ensuring the frigates are fighting fit for operational duties across the globe.”

To mark the occasion the project team, ship staff and supporting contractors gathered along the dockside to celebrate the fantastic achievement, before the project team waved off the Duke-Class frigate and her crew as she departed HMNB Devonport.

After completing sea trials, HMS Somerset will return to the Royal Navy fleet ready for operational tasking. Meanwhile HMS Iron Duke is the next frigate due to exit the Frigate Support Centre and continue her overhaul ahead of HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster arriving later this year.