HMS Westminster has passed a major milestone in its overhaul, with water now lapping the hull of Britain’s ‘capital ship’ for the first time in 11 months.
The frigate has been sitting on blocks in the recently-refurbished No.15 dock in Portsmouth Naval Base since November last year while engineers worked on her hull and machinery systems.
Work undertaken has included the application of ‘go faster’ paint, which reduces friction and resistance by making it less easy for marine life to stick to.
With the outer work on and below the waterline done, the engineers gradually opened the sluices in a day-long operation to flood the dock and refloat the Type 23 frigate.
Throughout the revamp, which will help keep Westminster on the front line until the replacement Type 26 ships enter service next decade, the frigate has retained a core ship’s company which is now gradually growing to prepare the warship for trials and ultimately her return to duties next year. Lt Cdr Tim Ciaravella, the frigate’s Senior Naval Officer, said:
“Now the ‘flood up’ has been completed, the full ‘set to work’ phase will begin – the ship’s company can start taking responsibility for Westminster’s equipment in preparation for moving onboard.”
“The ship is now afloat, which sets the context for the intensive training programme ahead and is a significant milestone in this joint venture between the Royal Navy and BAE.”
Among the improvements and enhancements to the 23-year-old frigate are a revamped command system and the new 3D Artisan radar which is quickly becoming the standard ‘eyes’ of the fleet.