Engineers supporting Royal Navy operations in the Gulf completed a first – replacing HMS Montrose’s principal radar in theatre, without sending her 7,500 miles home to Plymouth.
Artisan – Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation is the principal medium-range eyes of the Fleet, fitted to all frigates and capital ships.
It can see targets up to 200 kilometers – 125 miles – away from the ship and, thanks to its software, keep tabs on 900 targets simultaneously, including missiles inbound at three times the speed of sound.
Montrose’s Artisan has been spinning almost non-stop since the ship emerged from refit in December 2017.
And since she arrived in the Gulf in the spring of 2019 as the Royal Navy’s constant ‘big ship’ presence in the Middle East under the ever-growing forward presence program, the frigate and her radar have been heavily in demand.
That constant action and the punishing Middle East environment of heat/sand/dust have taken their toll, prompting a replacement.
In an operation lasting just a few days, Royal Navy Weapon Engineers, supported by experts from BAE Systems – who produce Artisan at their Isle of Wight facility – changed the radar at the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.
They had to remove the antenna to get to the heavy turning unit beneath, allowing the replacement to be installed, followed by complex testing and calibrations to allow the frigate to continue her security mission.
“The ability to conduct an engineering task such as this thousands of miles away from our home port demonstrates the Royal Navy’s commitment to transform its operating model to a forward deployed Navy,” said Montrose’s Weapon Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander Steve Jones.
Commander Paul Irving, commanding Montrose’s Port crew, underlined the importance of the maintenance work.
“My 997 radar provides a critical and lethal edge to Montrose,” he explained. “The fact that this task has been achieved so successfully, at reach from the Royal Navy’s traditional support networks, shows just how serious the Navy is about locating our ships around the world to participate in maritime security operations alongside allies.
“It also demonstrates the skills of Royal Navy engineers who are crucial to delivering this vision along with our industry partners like BAE Systems.”