Montrose back on patrol after overhaul in Oman

Frigate HMS Montrose has become the first Royal Navy warship to be overhauled in a new port in the Middle East.

The harbour at Duqm in Oman has been carved out of sand and stone over the past decade and is now both an important commercial port in the region – and a useful staging post for Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels operating in the Middle East.

Over the past decade Duqm, which sits on the Gulf of Oman about 270 miles south of Muscat, has been turned into a major port, thanks to massive infrastructure investment – and, in part, to the Royal Navy which surveyed the approaches to the man-made harbour.

Britain also signed a deal with Oman to develop facilities at Duqm to support RN operations in the region, including carrier deployments (the new port has the second largest dry dock in the Middle East), developing a joint logistics support base.

Naval vessels have been making use of Duqm for the past five years – the port was the hub for the major Saif Sareea amphibious exercise with the Omanis in 2018.

Despite the obvious constraints of strict Covid restrictions, the joint venture team delivered HMS Montrose back to sea on time, ensuring maximum benefit in terms of cost and quality

Alastair Stangroom, Managing Director of Babcock Oman

Now, the Royal Navy has made use of Duqm Naval Dockyard – the joint venture between the Oman Drydock Company and defence firm Babcock, who conduct maintenance and refits on British warships, especially frigates like Montrose.

Montrose has been based in the Gulf for nearly two years as part of the Royal Navy’s Forward Presence programme to station warships in key regions around the world.

All maintenance has been conducted in the Middle East to sustain the frigate’s operations – notably supporting the international Operation Sentinel keeping merchant shipping flowing safely in and out of the Gulf.

A four-week fleet time support programme was provided for the Bahrain-based vessel in Duqm. The team faced 250 critical tasks in that period including air weapons handling systems, fire systems and ventilation. Work was also carried out in the hangar, flight deck and on the bridge, as well as mess decks.

“Despite the obvious constraints of strict Covid restrictions, the joint venture team delivered HMS Montrose back to sea on time, ensuring maximum benefit in terms of cost and quality,” said Alastair Stangroom, Managing Director for Babcock Oman.