October 8, 2018 – Families, friends and former commanding officers helped welcome HMS Kent back to the heart of the Royal Navy after an 18-month keel-to-mast revamp.
The frigate has undergone a major overhaul in the hands of Babcock in Plymouth, work which makes her both the most advanced submarine hunter in the Fleet – and helps sustain her on active duties into the early 2030s.
As well as a brand new command system, the ship was fitted with the new Sea Ceptor missile system while in Babcock’s hands; replacing the veteran and battle-proven Seawolf across the Fleet, Sea Ceptor is able not merely to protect Kent herself from air/missile attack, but any task group to which she’s attached.
The Babcock team also enhanced the ship’s command and control system – the computer brains which process the masses of data Kent’s sensors gather so that the operations room team can interpret them.
And general machinery, messes and living quarters have all been cleaned, refreshed or overhauled.
The refit ended in July, since when the 180-plus crew have been conducting trials in home waters and shaking off the cobwebs of being alongside, before bringing their frigate into Portsmouth for the service of rededication, blessed by peerless autumn weather by the Solent.
“Being involved in the refit and subsequent regeneration of HMS Kent has represented one of the most challenging – and rewarding – periods of my career,” said marine engineer Chief Petty Officer Philip Shields.
“Seeing the journey from tired metal hull to a rejuvenated, re-purposed capable fighting unit ready to rejoin the fleet has been a privilege.”
At the other end of the spectrum is Engineering Technician Owen Pryce’s for whom Kent is his first ship.
“I have been made to feel really welcome and always felt like part of the team. The ship is not just where I work, it’s also where I live and it’s been great to be able to show HMS Kent off to my family today,” he said.
Deputy Logistics Officer Lieutenant Gavin Waring added: “As a logistician, people are often the focus of my role. Watching individual sailors come together and form a ship’s company with a single focus and breathing life into the ship through living, working and training together is definitely the Navy at its best.”
His observations were echoed by Commanding Officer Commander Andrew Brown who said everyone involved in the refit had pulled together to achieve the “truly incredible.”