Final maintenance before HMS Chiddingfold heads to the Gulf

HMS Chiddingfold is undergoing a final phase of maintenance as she prepares to head east.

The minehunter has entered the dry dock in Portsmouth Naval Base and there, work will take place to ensure she is ready for three years of operations forward deployed in the Gulf.

The ship’s company currently with HMS Chiddingfold, Mine Counter Measures 2 Crew 1 (MCM2 Crew 1) known as the Fighting Aces, spent time on her sister ship HMS Ledbury in the Gulf last year. They will use their experience to ensure the ship is ready to deploy following the usual extensive trials and training.

They will then handover to the crew responsible for sailing her to the region.

For the 'docking down', naval base tugs helped manoeuvre the minehunter into the narrow dock and 10 hours later, with the water drained away, Chiddingfold’s hull was accessible for contractors to inspect.

Entering service in the 1980s, the Hunt Class remains a great capability delivering valued support around the world despite recently entering their fifth decade of active service.

Lieutenant Commander Mark Heward, HMS Chiddingfold's commanding officer

Lieutenant Harry Eaton, the ship's navigating officer, was on the bridge roof with the pilot and commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Mark Heward.

“The fact the basin is surrounded by buildings on one side and an aircraft carrier on the other can make the wind do some strange things,” Lt Eaton said.

“It wasn’t easy for the Admiralty Pilot to manoeuvre the ship through such a small gap in those conditions.”

The current crew will now continue to work with the Royal Navy’s industry partners to ensure the ship is ready for her voyage to the Gulf.

Once there, she will be stationed at the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.

HMS Chiddingfold will relieve her sister ship HMS Ledbury to become one of four mine countermeasure ships – it is the first time she has returned to the Gulf since 2017.

When she sails, MCM2 Crew 1 will move onto HMS Cattistock where they will conduct operational sea training before deploying.

Lt Cdr Heward said: “Entering service in the 1980s, the Hunt Class remains a great capability delivering valued support around the world despite recently entering their fifth decade of active service.

“With the challenge of our own generation to come, it is great that Crew 1 will be re-joining the ‘Mighty Chid’ when we arrive in theatre ourselves later this year.”