A VETERAN warship is more deadly than ever thanks to a multi-million pound refit.
HMS Westminster is now bristling with new weapons and state-of-the-art technology following the upgrade.
The overhaul was part of a major maintenance project to improve the systems of the 24-year-old Type 23 frigate.
Carried out by 800 people at Portsmouth Naval Base, the improvements include the installation of BAE Systems’ top-of-the-line Artisan 3D radar, which can track more than 800 objects – at once – up to 200 kilometres away.
And the Duke-class vessel’s weapons now pack more firepower, with an armoury of Sea-Ceptor air defence missiles and new 4.5in Mk8 naval gun, which can fire 24 high explosive shells per minute, capable of obliterating targets at sea, on land and in the air in seconds.
Additionally, Westminster has been given a fresh lick of paint specially designed to protect her hull from damaging algae and marine organisms while on operations.
HMS Westminster is emerging from an extended refit period as one of the most capable surface ships in the Royal NavyCommander Simon Kelly
Commander Simon Kelly, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘HMS Westminster is emerging from an extended refit period as one of the most capable surface ships in the Royal Navy.
‘She has benefited from a number of significant upgrades, many of which the Royal Navy will invest in the future Type 26 frigate.’
Other refurbishments include structural improvements, with a replacement of the bridge, upgrades to the galley and a complete overhaul of the ship’s mess decks and communal areas.
The refit scheme has been part of the £600m maritime services delivery framework.
The upgrades have been designed to extend the lives of the Type 23s and come amid delays to the replacement of the ageing warships by the navy’s new Type 26 global combat ship.
Richard Dingley, fleet services director at BAE Systems, said the overhaul to Westminster sustains the navy’s desire for ‘the long-term availability’ of its ships.
He added: ‘We are continuing to deliver support to more than half of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet.
‘This includes technical services, training solutions and modernisation programmes, as well as maintenance, repair and upgrades to ships and equipment.
‘Our attention will now focus on returning to the fleet as an operational warship next year.’
Westminster will undergo a series of harbour-based and sea trials ahead of her return to service in spring 2017.