Babcock has begun a docking period on Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll at Devonport Royal Dockyard, marking the official start of the Type 23 life extension program.
HMS Argyll will be the first to undergo the Life Extension (LIFEX) Upkeep for Type 23 frigates – an extensive program of capability update and upgrade developed and coordinated through the Surface Ship Support Alliance (the MoD, Babcock and BAE Systems).
Led by Babcock, the LIFEX program brings together major changes to equipment and systems, encompassing the Capability Sustainment Program (CSP) and the opportunity to address equipment obsolescence, as well as extending the life of the hull and superstructure to operate well beyond its original design life. The program will help to de-risk the future transition into service of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship.
Among the major upgrades and updates under the CSP, HMS Argyll will be the first of class to receive the Future Local Area Air Defence System (FLAADS), or Sea Ceptor, replacing Sea Wolf as the primary weapon system. In a further first, Argyll will see a significant change to the chilled water system with the introduction of a ring main.
This first refit under the Type 23 life-ex program will incorporate a number of challenges. Among them is the efficient and successful delivery of the extensive hull and superstructure preservation work (involving the superstructure being blasted back to bare, repaired and repainted, following pre-upkeep assessment and surveys to ensure sound knowledge of the extent of the work required), in conjunction with the Sea Ceptor installation.
Babcock Program Manager Surface Combatants Gary Simpson said: “We are taking a proactive approach within the Alliance to developing the life-ex program, which will include significant changes to equipment and systems to address obsolescence, and also incorporates lessons identified in the recent delivery of upkeeps on HMS Sutherland and Monmouth. A programmatic approach will be key to success and we have organized ourselves within Babcock to achieve this, with particular focus on deriving the maintenance requirement, planning the work, delivering the maintenance and verifying its completion.”
He added: “HMS Argyll will see significant improvements in material condition and new capability as a result of this upkeep, but there is still more to do to ensure the Type 23 class continues to operate well into the next decade.”
Captain Jeremy Bailey, Head of the Type 23 Support Program at DE&S, said: “We have seen excellent progress on Type 23 support, and the start of the life extension program with HMS Argyll is a big step forward, taking onboard lessons identified in the recent delivery of upkeeps on HMS Sutherland and HMS Monmouth. We know that there is still more to do however, and are looking forward to ensuring that the Type 23 class continues to operate well into the next decade for the Royal Navy.”
Following this upkeep period HMS Argyll will leave Devonport Royal Dockyard in 2017 for sea trials and final acceptance of her new primary weapon system before returning to the Fleet with significantly improved structural sustainability and fighting capability, to enable her to perform her military role effectively to the end of her life.
Babcock International Group is the UK’s market-leading engineering support services company, delivering complex and critical asset support both in the UK and overseas. With revenue of circa £4.5 billion in 2015 and an order book of circa £20 billion, we manage vital assets within a number of industry sectors including energy, defence, emergency services, transport, telecommunications and education.