Royal Navy's HMS Lancaster returns to Portsmouth after major upgrade to make her more deadly finishes

PORTSMOUTH has welcomed home a Royal Navy frigate after a major refit to overhaul the warship was completed.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 12:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 8:52 pm

Souped-up HMS Lancaster has been given a new Artisan 3D radar and air defence weapons provided by the Sea Ceptor, which has replaced the old Sea Wolf missiles.

The Sea Ceptor has a greater range than its predecessor meaning Lancaster can now defend itself and other ships from aerial assault when acting within a strike group.

Other refitting work included cleaning the ship’s hull and coating it with anti-fouling paint to prevent damage caused by marine life.

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Big-ticket items fitted on Lancaster are a new Artisan 3D radar and vastly-improved air-defence capabilities provided by Sea Ceptor, replacing Sea Wolf missiles which only possess about half the Sea Ceptor’s range.Photo: Royal Navy

The Type 23’s 4.5-inch gun was serviced, while the warship’s engines and machinery were also overhauled.

Lancaster’s last mission took place more than four years ago, with the revamp work beginning two years ago.

It’s hoped the upgrades will help keep the ‘Queen’s Frigate’ – whose sponsor is the Queen – fighting fit for the next decade.

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HMS Lancaster has returned home to HM Naval Base Portsmouth on 17th December 2019 after completing a refit to keep her fighting-fit into the next decade. Photo: Royal Navy

Commander Will Blackett, Lancaster’s commanding officer, will take the warship to sea next year for equipment trials and crew training.

He said: ‘The journey to take HMS Lancaster from engineering project, to ship, to warship is well underway.

‘Returning to our base port is an important milestone which all onboard have keenly anticipated.

‘The timing makes it all the more poignant – four years and one day since she left, HMS Lancaster is home for Christmas and looking forward to rejoining the front line in the year ahead.’

The warship will see out the remaining years of her service life as a Portsmouth frigate until replaced during the 2020s as the Type 31 class emerge from build.

A deal was signed by the Ministry of Defence with Babcock last month to enable that programme to begin soon.

Eight of the Royal Navy’s 13 current Type 23 frigates are designated as anti-submarine specialists.

Five, including HMS Lancaster, are general purpose variants and will be stationed at Portsmouth Naval Base in a shake-up of ship basing announced by former defence secretary Gavin Williamson in 2017.