THE captain of one Britain’s state-of-the-art frigates has said bringing her out of a refit has been the ‘pinnacle of his career’.
Commander Simon Kelly was full of pride as he watched his crew unite at the rededication ceremony of HMS Westminster.
The event marked the end of a major overhaul for the Type 23 frigate – the biggest and most complex in her 24-year life.
Cdr Kelly – who was also presented with a long service and good conduct medal at the ceremony in Portsmouth Naval Base, said: ‘I have spent the last 19 years working very hard throughout my career and this has always been an aspiration.
‘But to take over a ship and a crew – that are newly formed – and to watch them come together as a team and a family is the absolute pinnacle of my career.’
More than 800 people worked on the ship for months to upgrade her warfighting tech.
She now sports a new, top-of-the-line Artisan 3D radar, capable of monitoring more than 800 objects simultaneously from 124 miles away.
On top of that, her offensive teeth have been overhauled.
She has been fitted with new Sea-Ceptor air defence missiles – faster and more deadly than the previous Seawolf system.
And her 4.5in MK8 naval gun has been refurbished.
Other improvements include a new, life-extending paint job, as well as structural upgrades to the bridge, galley and mess decks.
Cdr Kelly added: ‘Westminster has always been a world leader as far as anti-submarine warfare is concerned but now she becomes a world-leader in terms of her ability to protect other ships – in particular the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.’
The crew now face a series of training exercises to get them fighting fit to protect the navy’s two new supercarriers.
Westminster is one of three Type 23s to have been upgraded. The others are HMS Montrose and Argyll, based in Plymouth.