PROUD sailors marched back aboard their ship after she had an extensive weapons and navigation refit.
The 170 Royal Navy sailors are now back on board Portsmouth-based HMS Iron Duke following the 11-month work by BAE Systems in the city’s Naval Base.
The Type 23 frigate will now soon return to the sea to undergo sea trials for several months before rejoining the rest of the fleet.
If the trials go well, she – and her full complement of crew – will return to operational duties later this year.
Commanding Officer Commander Tom Tredray said being allowed back on the ship is just the start of the hard work ahead. He said: ‘Marching back on board marks a major milestone in the refit and the start of an intense period of checking the ship’s systems and safety equipment before we take her back to sea.’
HMS Iron Duke has now had major work done to improve her weapon systems and combat computer system.
Fitted with a new Artisan radar, she will be ready for any operation she is sent to tackle, anywhere across the globe.
And the sailors on board will also be much more comfortable with significant changes to the ship to improve their living conditions.
The ventilation has been improved so her crew will not suffer if they are in hot climates.
She now also complies to tougher rules on maritime pollution controls.
The crew have been living and working ashore in floating office accommodation in the naval base during the refit but are pleased to return home.
Able Seaman Lee Taylor, a seaman specialist, said he is excited about the prospect of being aboard a ship.
He said: ‘I’m really excited about moving on board.
‘This is my first ship and we’ve been working in an office for a while but I’m now really going to live like a sailor.’