Babcock delivers St. Albans three months ahead of schedule

Pictured: HMS St Albans heading back out to sea after a longhaul refit at HMNB Devonport. Back at sea for the first time in four and a half years is HMS St Albans – the penultimate Royal Navy frigate to undergo a massive overhaul. The Type 23 warship left Devonport Naval Base today on the first stage of her regeneration to return her to front line duties later this year. She’ll spend the next few weeks flashing up her systems and testing her improved/refurbished machinery in the Channel to ensure all the work which has been carried out is effective. The ship’s 178-strong crew moved back aboard in mid-November, since when they’ve been working hand-in-hand with contractors and engineers from defence firm Babcock, which has overseen the entire refit programme, to prepare The Saint to move under her own power for the first time since 2019.

Babcock has delivered Type 23 frigate HMS St. Albans back to the Royal Navy for sea trials three months ahead of the planned schedule, following an extensive and comprehensive refit.

Once her current sea trials are completed, HMS St. Albans, with her 178-strong crew, will return to sea as the most advanced, equipped, and capable Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy’s fleet, boasting next-generation weapons systems and radar.

During her time in dock, skilled Babcock engineers and other tradespeople spent around 1.2 million working hours carrying out a significant number of updates and upgrades to keep the platform at the leading edge of warfighting capability, including a substantial power generation and machinery upgrade, the removal, overhaul and replacement of both propulsion motors, and finally stripping and repainting her entire hull.

Crew facilities have also been improved and modernised to support the personnel living on board.

The teams that readied HMS St. Albans proudly gathered at the dockside to see her off and were joined by Royal Navy colleagues and representatives from across Babcock’s Devonport operation.

Gary Simpson, Managing Director of Babcock’s Marine Support business, said:

“Working on behalf of DE&S, preparing HMS St. Albans for sea again is central to ensuring our customer’s critical services are readily available, affordable, and long-lasting.

“Our skilled teams of engineers, fabricators, technicians, and other experts, with the support of DE&S, the Royal Navy and specialists in our supply chain, worked tirelessly to ensure the complex and extensive refit of HMS St. Albans was a resounding success. Watching her leave for sea trials was a proud moment for everyone involved.”

Commanding Officer of HMS St. Albans, Commander Helen Coxon, said:

“Going back to sea is a huge milestone and the result of a real team effort where Ship’s Company, DE&S, Babcock and other specialist contractors, have come together to help us transition from engineering project back to being a warship.

“Whether it was the first day at sea – as was the case for many of our less experienced sailors – or returning back to where we feel at home for the more experienced, sailing from Devonport was a big day and we’d like to thank all those involved in making it happen.”