HMS Westminster is back in fighting form

Picture: LA(Phot) Maxine Davies
Picture: LA(Phot) Maxine Davies
Picture: Shaun Roster

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ONE of the navy’s frigates is back in fighting form after completing one of the longest, most complex revamps in her 24-year life.

More than 800 engineers, technicians and shipwrights from BAE Systems have swarmed over HMS Westminster in Portsmouth Naval Base to prepare her for the final decade of her life.

They were joined by ever-increasing numbers of ship’s company, who have this week taken Westminster to sea on trials, the first step in the long road back to rejoining the front-line fleet.

The ship now has a new state-of-the-art Artisan 3D radar system, which can pin-point a target the size of a tennis ball from 200 miles away.

Her weapons system have also been overhauled. Her old Seawolf air defence missiles have been ripped out and replaced with the Sea Ceptor system – which has twice the range.

As well as this, the hull was repainted, 4.5in gun serviced and the engines and machinery overhauled.

Chief Petty Officer Andrew Buckley joined Westminster back in 1994 and, two decades later, was with her throughout the overhaul. He said: ‘Having taken Westminster out of build, I am proud to be taking her back out to sea after this extensive refit.’

Sub Lieutenant Harriet Delbridge, deputy logistics officer, said: ‘Once the ship returns to sea, she becomes a living entity, the noise of the engines, the smells from the galley and pitch and roll as she ploughs through the waves.’

Other Type 23s to be upgraded include HMS Montrose and HMS Argyl.