Warship back after change of engines

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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ROYAL Navy minehunter HMS Chiddingfold is back in the water after spending eight months in dry dock for a multi-million pound upgrade.

The ship has been fitted with new Caterpillar C32 diesel engines to replace her ageing Napier Deltic engines.

The navy said the move will extend her operational life, improve efficiency, reliability and reduce carbon emissions.

As well as new engines, Chiddingfold has received upgrades to her machinery monitoring systems, computer systems, and had obsolete equipment removed.

The 15,000-tonne dock where the refit was done was flooded yesterday and the ship was floated out into the basin.

Chiddingfold’s captain, 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.’

Chiddingfold is the first of the navy’s eight Hunt-class minehunters to receive the upgrade by BAE Systems’ naval ships service division at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The navy’s old Napier Deltic engines, which were first used in 1947, are being phased out of service in the coming years.

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.’

Chiddingfold’s 40-strong ship’s company will now work with BAE Systems to test the new machinery.

The ship will start sea trials later this year before officially rejoining the fleet and going back on operations.