Berthed alongside world-famous wartime cruiser HMS Belfast on the Thames near Tower Bridge, the River-class ship was recommissioned in a traditional naval ceremony in the heart of the nation’s capital.
A hectic schedule and Covid/lockdown restrictions prevented the Portsmouth-based warship formally rejoining the fleet as she enjoys a ‘second life’ under the White Ensign.
Severn arrived in the Pool of London after a short maintenance period in Falmouth Docks. There, the dockyard applied a unique paint scheme, mirroring ships who waged the Battle of the Atlantic 80 years ago.
Commander Philip Harper, Severn’s captain, said: ‘Bringing Severn back from the dead has been an amazing experience and commissioning here alongside Belfast, with both of us in our World War II camouflage, is the culmination of 18 months of hard work and dedication.’
The combination of blue-grey and green-grey on a background of white and light grey is known as the Western Approaches paint scheme.
First used by Second World War destroyer HMS Broke, it was worn by ships operating in the namesake approaches – extending about 1,000 miles from the UK into the Atlantic – to hide more effectively from German U-boat commanders.
HMS Severn is the first vessel to receive the paint job since the war. While radar makes the use of maritime camouflage largely irrelevant, it is a tribute to sailors of the Battle of the Atlantic who operated in the same waters.
Severn has been fully operational since July last year following comprehensive regeneration.
She was originally decommissioned in October 2017 after 14 years’ service, chiefly patrolling UK fishing grounds to ensure trawlers were sticking to regulations.
However, 12 months later she was later deemed too important to UK defence to be disposed of.
HMS Severn’s primary role in her second life is a combination of navigation training, protection of UK waters and fishery protection.
Built in Southampton by Vosper Thorneycroft, HMS Severn is the ninth ship to bear the name and after her launch in December 2002 was commissioned into the Royal Navy in July 2003.
At 262ft in legnth long and displacing nearly 2,000 tonnes, she has a top speed of 20 knots and a range of 5,500 nautical miles.
With a crew of approximately 45 sailors, the ship regularly rotates one third of her crew allowing her to be available for operations up to 320 days of the year.