TWO of the Royal Navy’s most powerful warships have returned to Portsmouth following significant equipment upgrades.
Specialist submarine-hunter HMS Kent and air-defence destroyer HMS Defender are now preparing for any global mission they are called on to make.
Both have received significant investment across command and control systems and weaponry over the last 18 months as part of the Ministry of Defence’s £179bn equipment programme.
Stuart Andrew, defence procurement minister, said: ‘Equipping HMS Defender and HMS Kent with this ground-breaking technology means their crews have the most capable ships of their class worldwide.
‘As we face a climate of intensifying threats, it is imperative our forces have trailblazing capabilities, and HMS Defender and HMS Kent’s refits will ensure they are ready for any eventuality in any corner of the globe.
‘These upgrades will see the warships showcase the cutting-edge surveillance, intelligence and weapons systems set to be part of our formidable Type 26 fleet as we continue to build a Royal Navy fit for the future.’
HMS Kent will soon re-take her place in the fleet alongside the other anti-submarine warfare frigates, and both she and HMS Defender could later take roles in future Royal Navy strike groups to protect the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers from attacks above or below the surface.
Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender was formally welcomed back into the fleet last week by Commodore Craig Wood, commander of the Portsmouth flotilla, after a series of trials to prove her upgrades was declared a success.
While specific detail of the work undertaken cannot be released, it did include fitting of two new gas turbines, as well as new signals intelligence and surveillance equipment.
Commander Richard Hewitt, Defender’s captain, said: ‘With a number of major capability upgrades, HMS Defender is now the most capable Type 45 in the Fleet.’
And HMS Kent sailed back into her home port of Portsmouth this week after returning from her overhaul by Babcock in Devonport, Plymouth.
As well as a new command system, she was fitted with the Sea Ceptor missile system, replacing Sea Wolf, to bolster the frigate’s ability to defend itself from air attack.
Now back in the home of the Royal Navy, HMS Kent will undergo a series of trials to test the equipment before re-joining the fleet as an operational Type 23 frigate.
Commander Andrew Brown, Kent’s commanding officer, said: ‘It has been a significant challenge taking HMS Kent from upkeep to successful sea trials and returning to her base port after 18 months away.
‘The effort and achievement from a highly professional and dedicated ship’s company has been remarkable and I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved. The upkeep has improved our capabilities and HMS Kent is, and will be, an extremely capable warship for many years.’