HMS Portland hosted a ceremony at Devonport today to mark her return to the Royal Navy fleet after an extensive refurbishment and upgrade.
The Type 23’s overhaul was completed by Babcock International at the dockyard and now the warship looks toward front-line operations once more.
Commander Surface Flotilla, Commodore Tim Neild said: “It is really great to be with you on this rather auspicious occasion, in which we herald a new dawn in the history of HMS Portland.
“In her 20 years of service she has steamed nearly half a million miles, and delivered world-class anti-submarine warfare operations, alongside many of our key partners and allies.
“I’d like to congratulate each and every one of you for the hard work and pride which you have all poured into every aspect of the delivery of HMS Portland, throughout her extensive refit.”
Commissioned in 2001, the Royal Navy’s second-youngest frigate has been busy since emerging from Devonport’s Frigate Support Centre late last year.
After completing her last deployment in 2017 – to the North and South Atlantic – the ship was handed over to Babcock in 2018 to start her refit in the frigate sheds on the River Tamar waterfront.
The the ship is the first of her class to have her electric propulsion motors removed, rewired and replaced, while the Sea Wolf missile system has been ripped out and Sea Ceptor installed in its place.
The 997 surveillance and 1084 navigational radars have been added too, plus the new to Royal Navy 2150 hull mounted sonar to sharpen her anti-submarine warfare teeth.
For good measure, machinery and IT systems on board have also been overhauled, as well as mess decks redesigned from their original 1980s layouts, meeting the needs and expectations of today’s sailors.
“It was a pleasure to join HMS Portland’s rededication ceremony and represent the Babcock project team involved in achieving this fantastic milestone,” said Gary Simpson, Managing Director of Babcock’s Marine Support business.
“The completion of this phase reflects the strong relationship between Babcock, DE&S and the Royal Navy. We wish HMS Portland and its crew all the best and look forward to continuing to support them as the vessel re-joins the fleet and prepares for operational tasking.”
The ship’s company and their equipment have undergone an extensive series of trials to test the ship, culminating in the successful test firing of Sea Ceptor.
Preparations are now firmly underway for Operational Sea Training in October, when the sailors will be trained and tested before the vessel’s scheduled recommencement of naval operations later this year.
HMS Portland’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Leeder, said: “It is a privilege and an honor to command such a capable, enthusiastic and incredible team of sailors in Portland.
“They should be proud of their achievements in readying her for entry back into the fighting arm of the Surface Flotilla. Although COVID has limited our numbers today, I am delighted to be sharing this day with the Portland affiliations, their involvement coupled with that of our absent families really enable us to deliver on operations in the New Year.”