‘HMS Ark Royal‘ oil on canvas by William Alan, 1979. Painting in collection of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.
‘HMS Ark Royal‘ oil on canvas by William Alan, 1979. Painting in collection of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.
HMS Protector (A173) was chartered in 2011 as a temporary replacement for HMS Endurance (A171). She was purchased outright by the Ministry of Defence in 2013 when it became clear that Endurance would not return to service.
Navy’s ice patrol ship leaves Portsmouth for the last time
by Sam Bannister
The Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship HMS Protector has left Portsmouth for the last time today.
Her ship’s company are off on a double deployment to the frozen continent of Antarctica.
When the ship returns, she will head for her new home port of Devonport in Plymouth.
The 5,000-tonne ship will stay in the region for two consecutive deployments, returning to the UK in spring 2015.
She will conduct surveys and patrols on behalf of the UK Hydrographic Office, British Antarctic Survey and Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
HMS Protector’s commanding officer, Captain Rhett Hatcher, said: ‘The ship’s company have worked incredibly hard in training and preparation over the summer.
‘We have installed a number of equipment upgrades and improvements and having completed operational sea training we are now ready for the challenges of the planned double deployment.
‘Experienced members of the crew and new ones alike are very much looking forward to this deployment and proudly flying the White Ensign and the Union Flag around the Antarctic territories and the region.’
There are currently five Trafalgar-class submarines left in service with the Royal Navy: HMS Tireless (commissioned 1985, scheduled to decommission 2014), HMS Torbay (commissioned 1987), HMS Trenchant (commissioned 1989), HMS Talent (commissioned 1990) and HMS Triumph (commissioned 1991). Babcock will be conducting work on CCSM to reduce near-term obsolescence for the “final four” boats only.
Babcock to upgrade Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class submarines’ CCSM system
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to Babcock to design and develop the first phase of the communications coherency for submarines (CCSM) system’s obsolescence update in support of the UK Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered submarine.
Upgrades to the CCSM system will address near-term obsolescence issues while enhancing the system’s life over the operational service of the final four Trafalgar-class submarines.
The CCSM modernisation programme will be performed in two stages, with the first involving an update to the hardware and software handling the military signal messages, while the second phase will address the legacy communications equipment routing infrastructure.
Currently, Babcock is developing and seeking suitable hardware and software with the authority as part of the contract, while the design is expected to be finalised in September 2013.
Babcock integrated system and support group director, Charles John, said: “Babcock is responsible for CCSM in-service support and is pleased to provide a solution that overcomes the obsolescence issues while minimising the disruption to the office infrastructure due to the CCSM design.”
The CCSM system has been designed by Babcock to provide enhanced capability for submarines to manage existing and future levels of message traffic and information such as the efficient using and sharing of information, as part of joint or coalition task force.
Initially deployed on to the Trafalgar-class submarines in 2005, the system has integrated existing independent autonomous systems into a single commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) based system architecture.
The improved processes of the system also enable rapid technology integration for maximum efficiency and cost benefits.
Acceptance trials for the CCSM system update is expected to be carried out in the company’s purpose-built Communications Shore Integration Facility (CSIF) at Devonport, UK, in January 2014.
Still dredging them up after 70-years, still disposing of them safely. BZ to the Southern Diving Group. There’s expertise that can’t be put out to Chinese contract!
World War Two mine destroyed past Plymouth Breakwater
A WORLD War Two mine has been destroyed after being found by a fishing vessel.
A Royal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team disposed of the mine in a controlled explosion south of Plymouth Breakwater.
The explosion took place at 11am today, and Royal Navy EOD divers conducted a survey to establish the success of the operation.
A 1000m cordon was established for the destruction of the mine, which had been recovered by a fishing vessel near Eddystone Light.
If you saw the controlled explosion from the Sound or Plymouth Hoe send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
70-years later, unexploded munitions from the Second World War still remain a problem to be dealt with. Fortunately, Royal Navy clearance divers have the necessary EOD skills to deal with these historic hazards.
Southern Diving Unit blows up World War 2 bomb in north Cornwall
The team of four from the Southern Diving Unit 1 at HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, blew up the air-dropped bomb in-situ in a controlled explosion where it was found by contractors for SW Water laying a mains in a field at St Eval Kart Circuit near Wadebridge, north Cornwall yesterday.
The unexploded German 50g, two-ft-long device was still live and had to be rendered safe through working on the fuse. An exclusion zone (including a no-fly-area because of the adjacent Newquay Airport) was enforced over night by police. Roads were closed and horses in the field were also removed for their safety.
The incident also involved staff from the water company and a local authority. Preparation for the operation began with the building of a protective earthwork with 6.5 tonnes of sandbags in two rings round the bomb in order to prevent damage to property and people from the bomb if it went off unexpectedly and when detonated in the controlled explosion.
Petty Officer Diver Sid Lawrence said: “This was a very well run operation with several organisations including the water company, builders on the site who discovered the bomb and emergency services, local authorities and the guys who put up the protective works. This made our job a lot more straight forward and ensured the safety of the public.
“This was a live bomb which caused a major hazard. However, after the delicate work needed to disarm the bomb we decided to detonate it on the same site and that went smoothly.’’
Granted, you can’t save every old warship as a museum. That would be impractical, expensive, wasteful and undesirable. However, there are certain vessels that simply must be preserved – those that took part in great historic events, particularly vessels that are “the last of their kind,” and those that would serve as a lasting tribute to the men and women who served in the nation’s conflicts. HMS Plymouth is one of those ships.
HMS Plymouth ‘should return to dockyard’
THE veteran warship HMS Plymouth should return to her birthplace at Devonport Dockyard, a campaigner believes.
HMS Plymouth is the last surviving warship from the 1982 Falklands War.
She was launched in Devonport in 1959 and decommissioned in 1988.
The ship is moored at Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead, after the collapse of the Warship Preservation Trust, which ran her as a floating museum until 2006.
Laurence Sharpe-Stevens, the director of the HMS Plymouth Trust, announced last year that he had found a berth for HMS Plymouth in the North East of England.
But this week he said that his preferred choice was Plymouth, where she could be turned into a museum and a training ship.
Mr Sharpe-Stevens said he believed the Ministry of Defence would release three docks at Devonport’s South Yard to Plymouth City Council in the next three years.
He is exploring the possibility of co-locating HMS Plymouth with the existing Devonport Museum, and bringing in visitors by water.
The trust was told last year by Peel Ports, the Birkenhead dock operator, that they had sold the ship to a Turkish ship breaker, and asked the trust to raise £400,000 to buy her back.
But Mr Sharpe-Stevens said he had discovered that this was untrue.
Mr Sharpe-Stevens said he had been given evidence by the Treasury Solicitor that ownership of HMS Plymouth had never been passed on after the failure of the Warship Preservation Trust. The Environment Agency had not received an application for the licence that would be required to send the ship abroad, he said.
And the Marine and Coastguard Agency had not been asked to carry out a survey which would be required before the ship could be towed to Turkey.
He said he had contacted all the scrap dealers in Turkey and none of them admitted to having obtained HMS Plymouth.
Peel Ports has not responded to The Herald’s requests for comments.
Mr Sharpe-Stevens said he was not seeking any cash from Plymouth City Council.
“Also, we are not raising money to purchase the ship because she is ownerless as the Crown Treasury has never gifted or granted the ship to anybody. Peel Ports do not own the ship by default as there is no such thing in law.”
He said the ship was in good condition, in spite of her rusty appearance in recent photographs. “This is mostly surface paint rust streaks. We think Peel Ports is not discouraging the spread of the ‘rusty hulk’ untrue rumour because it gives them justification (and no protests) to scrap her for cash.”
The first of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers isn’t due to commence trials until 2017 and will not be operational until at least 2018, leaving the slow-moving Ocean as the Royal Navy’s only carrier of any sort… just helicopters, no Harriers… thanks SDR!
Still, BZ to the lads at Babcock’s for their work on Ocean.
Babcock marks key milestone as HMS Ocean undocks
An important milestone was reached today, 31 July, in the major upkeep and upgrade programme being carried out by Babcock on HMS Ocean when the amphibious assault ship (the Royal Navy’s largest ship) came out of dock at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard.
This significant milestone, achieved on-schedule after seven months in dock, comes about half way through HMS Ocean’s substantial 15 month upgrade and overhaul programme, which includes more than 60 upgrades, mechanical improvements and an extensive maintenance package. This massive upkeep period is around three times that of a typical Type 23 docking period in terms of volume of work, employing an average of 300 Babcock employees plus staff from over 70 contractor companies.
Today’s undocking marks the completion of the dock-dependent elements, including overhaul of all the ship’s underwater valves, application of the outer bottom foul release paint coating, survey and represervation of tanks, repair of several sea tubes, and maintenance on the ship’s main propulsion system, propellors, shafts, rudders and stabilisers, as well as the overhaul and test of the ship’s mooring capstans, among other work.
Work on HMS Ocean will now continue with the ship alongside. This will include habitability improvements to the crew’s and embarked military forces’ living quarters and refurbishment of the main galley, laundry and commissariat, enhancement of the ship’s fire detection system, and commissioning the main propulsion and auxiliary systems, as well as work on aircraft lifts and weapons equipment. Ship’s staff will move on board in early November, and HMS Ocean is expected to leave Devonport for sea trials in early 2014.
This upkeep is the first on an amphibious ship under the full implementation of the Surface Ship Support Alliance (SSSA) Class Output Management (COM) approach, under which Babcock leads the support of all amphibious vessels. Various approaches and measures are being applied by the COM team to optimise delivery, and achieve significant savings and efficiencies in the planning and execution of this major upkeep.
Babcock Warship Support Managing Director Mike Whalley commented: “This is a highly complex and challenging project both technically and in terms of project management, and we are delighted to have met this significant undocking milestone on schedule, thanks to hard work by all parties. There is still considerable work to be done, and the team will now focus on continuing to maintain this strong progress through the rest of the project, to deliver HMS Ocean safely, on-time, fully refurbished with improved capability and performance, at optimum value for money.”
Kevin Barry, the DE&S Destroyers and Amphibious Platforms Team Leader said: “I am particularly encouraged by the strong team ethos which has been vital to overcoming some significant challenges in getting to this project milestone. The fact that MoD, industry and RN teams are utilising the huge range of skills and experience they possess and working so effectively together is fundamental to delivery of such large and complex projects. We are now focused on successful delivery of this hugely capable and versatile platform back to the Fleet.”
The undocking of HMS Ocean today sees the ship leaving the newly developed 10 Dock facility at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard, which has undergone a significant investment and refurbishment programme to provide a first class facility to service the UK’s amphibious fleet.