HMS Cattistock joined by First Sea Lord to mark return to service after upgrade

A ceremony marking Portsmouth-based minehunter, HMS Cattistock’s return to frontline service following a major upgrade, took place in Portsmouth Naval Base today.

The upgrade, carried out by BAE Systems in Portsmouth, includes new engines and means that the minehunter can sail faster, stay at sea longer, and will extend the ship’s life to 2030 and beyond.

The Head of the Royal Navy First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas joined the proud crew as guest of honour with his wife, Lady Amanda Zambellas to celebrate the ships achievements and mark the occasion.

As a previous Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock, he has a particular interest in the ship – in 1991 he became the sixth naval officer to take command.  

So with new engines, world-beating sensors and systems, and the best trained, most skilled sailors of any navy, there’s plenty of life left in the old girl yet.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval staff

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval staff, said: “As her former Commanding Officer, it was a privilege to join HMS Cattistock’s current ship’s company, their guests and affiliates, to share in this special occasion.

“She may be small, but Cattistock and her sisters have a big responsibility. The Hunt-class have cleared mines and ordnance in nearly every major UK military operation over the past thirty-five years. 

"This role continues today, as they keep our home waters safe and work with our allies to keep the international shipping lanes open for world trade. So with new engines, world-beating sensors and systems, and the best trained, most skilled sailors of any navy, there’s plenty of life left in the old girl yet.”

The ship’s Commanding Officer, Lt Commander Simon Cox, who gave a speech at the ceremony, said: “ This day marks the end of HMS Cattistock’s refit and importantly her return to the fleet and operational service.

"It is testament to the hard work and professionalism of both the ship’s company and our industrial partners that together, success has been achieved.” 

He added: “A ships company are what make a ship special and the crew of HMS Cattistock are no exception. Their hard work, drive and commitment throughout refit should be commended.”

The thirty minute re-dedication ceremony took place on board the ship with music provided by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.

The youngest member of the ship’s company, Engineering Technician Jake Colquhoun (19) was joined by Lady Amanda Zambellas to cut a special celebration cake – a replica of the ship’s original commissioning cake - that had been made by the wife of one of the crew.

Harriet Clark, Head of Surface Ship Support Alliance at BAE Systems said: “BAE Systems is proud to see HMS Cattistock re-dedicated today following a significant maintenance period at Portsmouth Naval Base which included a comprehensive upgrade to her propulsion system. 

The upgrade has introduced significant improvements which have increased the ship’s capability to support global operations. These include a new engine which improves fuel efficiencies, increases speed and has better reliability. 

Five Mine Counter Measure Vessels have been upgraded to date and we have already received extremely positive feedback from their Royal Navy Commanding Officers on the improved performance of their ships.”

Admiral Zambellas also awarded commendations to two of the ship’s company in recognition of their exceptional performance and commitment. 

Petty Officer Weapons Engineer James Bride, from Gosport, was awarded a Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla Commendation in recognition of his hard work, commitment and selfless approach to leading his department successfully through the ships  upgrade. 

PO Bride said: “ Having spent 18 years in the Royal Navy my time on HMS Cattistock has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I’ve relished the challenge and I’m really proud to have been part of it.”

Chief Petty Officer Steve Rogers received the Commander Joint Operations Commendation recognising the challenges he faced whilst serving on operations in 2014.

Guests included almost half of the ships 35 previous Commanding Officers, representatives from the ships namesake town and cadets from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Training Cadet organisation.

Having discovered the ships original commissioning photo from 1982, the 45 crew posed to re-create the photo, joined by the First Sea Lord, before the ceremony. 

Next up for the ship is operational sea training off the UK coast until the end of the year.