Portland takes a big step back to the Fleet

The White Ensign flies on Her Majesty’s Ship Portland for the first time in nearly three years as she begins to emerge from refits.

Britain’s second-youngest frigate is the latest to undergo the major overhaul – the LIFEX or Life Extension programme which the Type 23 flotilla has been going through over the past five or six years.

Improvements include new engines, ripping out the obsolete SeaWolf air defence missile and installing its successor Sea Ceptor, and generally overhauling machinery, computer and IT systems onboard, as well as refurbishing mess decks designed in the 1980s to meet the needs and expectations of 21st Century sailors.

Although still covered in scaffolding, Portland is out of Devonport’s landmark frigate shed and has been formally handed over to the RN by defence firm Babcock, who have overseen the demanding project.

Accepting Portland on behalf of the RN was Senior Naval Officer, Lieutenant Commander Craig Guest who took delivery and signed for the Devonport-based Type 23 frigate from Babcock’s Project Manager Mark Reed and Senior Platform Manager Stephen Hearty.

The next milestone in the ship’s regeneration is the arrival of her new commanding officer, Commander Tim Leeder, next month.

The frigate is due to begin sea trials in 2021 followed by extensive training as she works her way back to front-line operational status; she’s not deployed since an Atlantic deployment over the winter of 2016-17.