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Somerset back at sea after nine-month revamp

Somerset back at sea after nine-month revamp

15/01/2013

Frigate HMS Somerset is back at sea undergoing eight weeks of intensive sea trials after completing a nine-month refit in her home base. The Devonport warship has been out of action since returning from the Gulf region last spring as improved weapons systems and a new ‘brain’ were installed among other upgrades.

I’m incredibly proud to be taking Somerset back to sea after what has been a highly-productive upgrade.
Cdr Mike Smith

SAILING past two of Plymouth Hoe’s instantly recognisable landmarks – historic Smeaton’s Tower and the much more recent Wheel of Plymouth – HMS Somerset returns to the sea beginning the long journey back to front-line service.

After nine months out of action undergoing a £20m overhaul in her home base, the Type 23 frigate is being put through her paces for eight weeks off the South Coast – a chance for ship and ship’s company to shake off the cobwebs.

After four six-month deployments to the Middle East in five years, the most recent one to the Gulf ending in March 2012, it was time for a spot of ‘regeneration’ courtesy of the shipwrights and technical experts at Babcock.

Given the ship’s punishing schedule over the past five years, her refit allowed crew to spend more concerted time at home, as well as fit in the requisite training and other courses ready to breathe fresh life into the frigate.

As for their ship, Somerset has received a new ‘brain’ – the DNA(2) command system which is central to her ability to deal with threats in the air, on the surface and under the ocean – the latest variant of the SeaWolf missile system, which effectively doubles its range coping with incoming enemy missiles and aircraft, and the latest MOD computer system (DII(F)) has been installed making it easier for the ship to share information with the rest of the RN and wider Armed Forces.

Chefs will enjoy working in a new-look galley, while most of Somerset’s weapons systems and sensors have undergone upgrades and alterations and new coats of paint applied to the hull – not only making her look smarter but also cut through the seas more efficiently.

All in all, a very comprehensive package – completed, says Babcock’s managing director Mike Whalley “safely, efficiently, to quality, and on time”.

It now falls to Somerset’s captain Cdr Mike Smith and his team to turn what was a lifeless hull back into a fighting unit ready to cope with any demands placed on her. He said:

I’m incredibly proud to be taking Somerset back to sea after what has been a highly-productive upgrade. The ship now has increased capability to meet the need of an adaptable Royal Navy and is ready to return to the active fleet.

Once Somerset has completed her eight weeks of sea trials she’ll be formally handed back to the Fleet to head down the long road towards deploying on active service.

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