Veteran minehunter Cattistock enters her forties

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Cattistock

Life doesn’t begin at 40 for HMS Cattistock… but life extension does.

The veteran minehunter marked the milestone in refit in Portsmouth – work which will take her to almost 50 years’ service under the White Ensign.

Whereas few conventional RN ships last beyond 25-30 years, in theory the plastic-hulled Hunts could go on for decades – HMS Ledbury (in refit and the oldest operational warship) is 41 as is decommissioned HMS Brecon (used for training at HMS Raleigh) – as long as the machinery and systems within the hull is maintained.

Which is exactly what is taking place now, as the ship undergoes a refit period in dry dock in Portsmouth - part of a programme to keep the class in service until into the 2030s... and upwards of 50 years’ service.

Work includes structural maintenance, a new modernised accommodation space and capability upgrades to improve her core ability to find and destroy sea mines.
Cattistock is expected to back in operational service early next year, re-joining the flotilla of Hunts under the banner of Portsmouth’s 2nd Mine Countermeasures Squadron and continue her work in developing and operating the latest mine hunting equipment.

Her current Crew, MCM2 Crew 6, celebrated the milestone in the refit complex with an event supported by BAE Systems and the RNRMC, including presentation of a framed photograph of the ship taken shortly after construction, cake (naturally) and specially-commissioned ‘HMS Cattistock ale’ from Langdon Brewery.

Launched at the now-gone Vosper Thornycroft yard in Woolston in 1981 and commissioned the following March in Rosyth – her home until being transferred to Portsmouth – Cattistock is the third ship in her class… and the third warship to bear the name of the Dorset hunt.

She is affiliated to Frome Valley Parish Council and Poole Borough Council alongside a host of small establishments and organisations in the Cattistock area.

Her career over the last 40 years has been impressive and varied: battle honours for her action in the first Gulf War as part of patrol group X-Ray alongside her sisters Hurworth and Atherstone; numerous deployments with NATO’s two mine warfare task groups in the Baltic/Northern Europe and Mediterranean; survived a major engine room fire in 1997 which put her out of action for 14 months; and, like the rest of the mine countermeasures flotilla, an extended spell in Bahrain supporting ongoing operations in the Gulf since 2007.

“It is an honour to celebrate Cattistock’s achievements while marking this impressive milestone,” said Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Daniel Lee.

“The hull may be aging, the equipment we operate in and from these ships is some of the newest, most capable in the Royal Navy and ensures we maintain our position as the best mine hunting force in the world.”

It is an honour to celebrate Cattistock’s achievements while marking this impressive milestone.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Daniel Lee