Docks drained to make way for frigate’s refit

HMS St Albans in dry dock     Picture: Royal Navy/YouTube
HMS St Albans in dry dock Picture: Royal Navy/YouTube
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MORE than 128,000 tonnes of water was pumped out from one of Portsmouth Naval Base’s dry docks to make way for one of the navy’s frigates.

HMS St Albans is undergoing essential repair works for the next few weeks following her nine-month deployment.

Enough fluid to fill 1,068,333 bathtubs was drained from the dock in the epic 11-hour operation.

Deputy marine engineering officer Lieutenant Peter Ainscow said the maintenance work was ‘essential’ for the ship.

‘All ships incur wear and tear from deployments and HMS St Albans in particular has been operating at a high operational tempo which makes this sort of work necessary for her continued capability,’ he added.

Lasers were used to keep the Type 23 in the right position as the water level lowered.

St Albans is now being kept upright by a series of large wooden beams that brace the her side against the dock walls, with cranes levering them into position.

The precise process of lining the ship up is vital as all the underwater equipment located on an antisubmarine frigate, including her sonar dome, have only 50cm clearance to the dock bottom once all the water has been drained.

Maintenance works will include repairs to her underwater fittings and works to her rudders, including painting them, to ensure they are preserved until the next planned maintenance period.