Minehunters go undercover as Quorn and Atherstone begin revamp

Even two 196ft minehunters look tiny in the cavernous ship hall in Portsmouth.

Not as much as one, though.

Just days after refurbished HMS Brocklesby left the enormous shed in the dockyard, HMS Quorn and Atherstone took her place – the latest Hunt-class minehunters to undergo a mid-life overhaul.

The shed was built to construct giant sections first of Type 45 destroyers then, once extended, even larger segments of carriers Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.

With shipbuilding now concentrated on the Clyde, Portsmouth is now the ‘Minor War Vessels Centre of Specialisation’ – and the shed allows extensive maintenance work to be carried out without the need to worry about the weather.

Brocklesby was the first Hunt to undergo rejuvenation in the ship hall (you could fit 15 of the 750-tonne warships in the shed… except only 13 were built… and only eight are still in active RN service).

It’s an exciting time to be involved in the upgrade of the Royal Navy’s minehunters and great to see the Royal Navy making best use of its undercover facilities for the Hunt class,

Barry Woolley, BAE

Now she’s back in the water, Quorn and the Crazy A (aged 28 and 30 respectively) have been lifted up, put on blocks and moved inside.

Each will receive Caterpillar engines to replace the aged Deltics, plus other new machinery, sensors, systems, new galleys, new propellers, improved chilled water plants (crucial for potential operations in the Gulf, where two Hunts are deployed) and overhauled mess decks. 

In all, each ship requires 9,000 maintenance jobs completing; the BAE engineers reckon the work will take 190,000 hours per ship – more than 21½ years’ work if carried out by a single person.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in the upgrade of the Royal Navy’s minehunters and great to see the Royal Navy making best use of its undercover facilities for the Hunt class,” said BAE’s projects and operational performance director Barry Woolley.

“These ships are crucial to the mine counter-measures capability of the Royal Navy. We’ll continue to ensure these vital ships are available for the Royal Navy to use for years to come.”