Royal Navy minehunter HMS Chiddingfold is back in the water after spending eight months in dry dock for a significant upgrade.
The ship has been fitted with new Caterpillar C32 diesel engines - replacing her old Napier Deltics - which will extend her operational life, improve efficiency and reliability and reduce emissions.
Chiddingfold is the first of the Royal Navy’s eight Hunt Class minehunters to receive the upgrade at Portsmouth Naval Base - carried out by BAE Systems - which will maintain the Royal Navy’s position at the forefront of mine warfare operations.
The flooding of the dock was overseen by Dock Master Ray Gibbs, with timing critical as the operation could only take place in a short tidal window. Under his control water was released into the 15,000-tonne-capacity dock at up to three tonnes per second.
Once all underwater compartments had been checked for leaks the ship was lifted off her blocks ready to be moved to an adjoining basin.
As well as new engines she has received upgrades to her machinery monitoring systems and computer systems, and had obsolete equipment removed.
HMS Chiddingfold’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Richard Rees, said:
It is a real boost for the ship’s company and the project as a whole to see the ship back in the water after a long time in dock, and we are excited to be the first to try out the new systems.
BAE Systems Project Manager Charles Earles said:
I would like to thank everyone for the hard work that has been put in to get to this milestone. We have achieved a great deal and now need to keep this momentum going.
The 40-strong ship’s company will now work with BAE Systems to test the new machinery before the ship starts sea trials later in the year.