Following an extensive refit, HMS Portland has become the final Royal Navy Type 23 frigate to be fitted with Thales UK’s Sonar 2087, a towed array sonar system that enables warships to hunt submarines at considerable distances and locate them beyond the range from which they can launch an attack. Portland has now returned to service, with a re-dedication ceremony on 21st March.
The 12-month multi-million pound refit in Rosyth Royal Dockyard of Portland’s sensors, weapons and systems completes a successful joint programme between industry and the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) to ensure the upgraded ships are now the most advanced of their kind in service.
The Royal Navy has described how the combination of a Type 23 frigate fitted with Thales’s Sonar 2087 and a Merlin helicopter equipped with the Thales FLASH dipping sonar makes the class the “most potent anti-submarine warfare platform of any navy at sea today”.
Eight of the Royal Navy’s fleet of Type 23 frigates have now been upgraded for use as submarine hunters. The other seven upgraded ships are Westminster, Northumberland, Richmond, Somerset, Sutherland, Kent and St Albans.
Sonar 2087 is a low-frequency sonar with both active and passive sonar arrays. The system is manufactured at Thales sites in the UK (Cheadle Heath in Manchester and Templecombe in Somerset) and France (Brest).
Greg Pugh, Sensors Programme Manager for the MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support headquarters, said: “The T23 frigates are at the heart of the Royal Navy’s frontline fleet, and are proving to be a formidable and highly-effective capability. The Sonar 2087 is a very capable ASW system, giving these platforms a significant capability enhancement.”
Ed Lowe, head of Thales UK’s naval business, said, “We welcome the news that HMS Portland has completed this upgrade. Fitted with Sonar 2087 and FLASH dipping sonar, the Type 23s represent a formidable anti-submarine warfare force. We are proud to be a key sensor supplier to the Royal Navy.”
Thales is a global technology leader for the Defence & Security and the Aerospace & Transport markets. In 2012, the company generated revenues of €14.2 billion (equivalent of £11.5 billion) with 67,000 employees in 56 countries. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements.