HMS Richmond readies herself for carrier mission

Gearing up for an imminent return to sea are the crew of HMS Richmond, emerging from refit as the nation’s most advanced frigate.

Long-based in Portsmouth, the ship has switched homes for Plymouth - where all the dedicated submarine-hunting Type 23s are being concentrated.

While in the hands of the engineers at Babcock, Richmond has undergone many of the same upgrades as the remainder of the frigate flotilla has received over the past few years, notably replacing the aged Sea Wolf air defence missile system with the new Sea Ceptor.

Where Richmond stands out, however, is as test bed for her successors in the Type 26/City class of frigates; she’s the first vessel to receive the PGMU propulsion system - a new generation of diesel generators, accompanied by a fully-modernised control and surveillance system, making it easier to control and monitor the engines... diagnose any problems.

Richmond’s marine engineers have been putting the new system through its paces, with an extensive series of trials that will ensure the frigate sails with the highest levels of confidence and operational capability when she begins her sea trials.

Other crew members have been training extensively during the refit: regular fire and flood drills; warfare specialists fought simulated battles in the ops room simulator and chefs got stuck into Devonport’s ‘cook and serve’ contest, earning a bronze medal for their efforts.

Despite the demands of the engineering work and training, sailors have also had time to enjoy adventurous training opportunities.

“It’s one of the perks of being in the Navy,” said Able Seaman Callum Board-Lynch. “I was fortunate to get on a summer package to the Navy Outdoor Centre in Germany - and what a week it was!

“The weather mostly held up, the staff were great and the activities were duly challenging. I’ve come home with a qualification in kayaking thanks to the Navy. If anyone gets the opportunity to attend the outdoor centre, I could not recommend it enough.”

Closer to home Richmond’s physical training instructor Anthony Underwood encouraged his shipmates to participate in a range of activities on water, on land and in the air: wakeboarding and paddleboarding on the River Exe, caving in Cheddar Gorge, power boating on the Camber and skydiving above Salisbury Plain.

Richmond’s football team have enjoyed runs out against teams in their new home base, including a 5-0 trouncing of submariners from HMS Triumph, while the rugby team put their sister ship HMS Argyll to the sword 77-19.

“I have no doubt that this will bring a newly-formed ship’s company closer together, giving them the opportunity to try new challenges and activities. This in turn will contribute greatly to the operational capability of HMS Richmond when she returns to sea,” Anthony said.

Following sea trials in early 2020, the frigate will spend the rest of the year undergoing extensive training all leading up to her planned assignment as anti-submarine escort for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s battle group when the carrier sails on her maiden deployment in 2021.