Somerset Leaves Devon

Mon, 14 January 2013

Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset has left Devonport Royal Dockyard for sea trials with significantly increased sustainability and fighting capability, following a successful nine-month docking period undertaken by Babcock; the first major maintenance period conducted under the full implementation of the Surface Ship Support (SSS) Alliance Class Output Management (COM) arrangements.

The project has been successfully undertaken by a joint SSS Alliance team (MoD, Babcock, and BAE Systems) under the co-ordination of the Type 23 COM.

HMS Somerset has received a number of upgrades and improvements during the upkeep period, including the new DNA(2) Command System, central to the ship’s capability against air, surface and underwater threats; a SeaWolf mid-life upgrade comprising tracking, guidance and weapon management upgrades to counter evolving anti-ship missile threats; installation of the Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)) enabling information sharing and collaborative working across the Armed Forces and MOD; and NATO Radial Filters to protect fresh air supplies from contamination in the event of an incident; as well as a galley equipment upgrade ensuring the service areas are in optimum condition to support the ship.  A programme of maintenance and minor upgrades on the radar, sonar, and weapons systems including the 4.5 inch gun has also been carried out.

Additionally, a number of mechanical upgrades, and full programme of deep maintenance has been undertaken, including a large paint preservation package and replacement of propeller shafts.

Babcock Managing Director Warships, Mike Whalley, said: “This has been a challenging docking period, with a highly complex integrated schedule requiring careful planning and management to ensure the workscope was executed safely, efficiently, to quality, and on time.  We worked closely with the MoD in the planning phase and drew on our significant experience from previous successful Type 23 docking periods to enable much of the traditional growth to be incorporated into the specification from the start.  This was the first Type 23 docking period to be undertaken under the full implementation of the SSS Alliance COM arrangements, and will contribute to future Type 23 refits as the material state knowledge held by the Type 23 COM team builds, allowing workscope development to be increasingly well informed, and greater efficiencies and savings to be achieved.”

He added: “The recent review of the second phase of the SSS Alliance implementation has identified achievements including strong performance against Key Performance Indicators in sustaining availability targets.  The joint focus to deliver a recognised material state for each platform within the Alliance is a key part of that, and is a huge undertaking that will ultimately deliver a much better material state awareness to the MoD for its platforms to enable more efficient and cost-effective through life management.”

Captain Jonathan Fry RN, the MoD's Frigates & MCM Team Leader said: "HMS Somerset’s upkeep has been the first real test of the ability of the Type 23 COM and the SSS Alliance to deliver a major package of maintenance and capability upgrade.  I am delighted that we have reached this key milestone on time and materially ready to commence sea trials.  Both Babcock and the COM have worked hard to ensure taut management and delivery of a complex project and I look forward to a successful trials period and returning HMSSomersetto the Royal Navy once these are complete.”

HMS Somerset will now undergo eight weeks of sea trials before returning to the Fleet.

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