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Weight expectations: new frigate HMS Venturer takes to hi-tech ‘scales’

9 February 2024
You can’t put that on a weighing scales.

No, but it’s still possible to precisely weigh one of the Royal Navy’s next-generation frigates to ensure weight estimates during design are validated.

HMS Venturer is the first of five Inspiration-class frigates and just shy of two years since she was laid down the warship reached a milestone in her construction.
Here comes the science bit:

Throughout the design of a ship, the weight is estimated by naval architects, who take into account a raft of considerations: weight of materials such as the steel in the hull, the equipment and engineering and systems installed (engines, shafts, pipes, computers, wiring, weapons), consumables (food and stores), fuel and even the ship’s company.

Much of that has yet to be installed (or join) the ship, but to validate that the calculations to date are spot on, the entire ship as she exists right now was lifted and measured three times.

Venturer is longer than 11 London buses. It took 84 power hydraulic jacks to raise her, while load cells took precise calculations of the weight.

Having successfully weighed the ship, the team at Babcock are completing the construction of the ship in the cavernous assembly hall at Rosyth alongside the second ship in the Type 31 programme, HMS Active.

Venturer is due to emerge from the hall this year to pave the way for work on Active and the third frigate, HMS Formidable, to progress in the facility, while the first-in-class ship completes fitting out and installation of kit and systems which could not be added inside the assembly building.

Meanwhile, HMS Venturer’s crew have been in Portsmouth to see one of the completed systems which is now ready for installing in the bridge of their ship.

Hand-in-hand with construction in Scotland, many systems are being designed and tested ready for installation… including the ‘Warship Integrated Navigation and Bridge System’ which has been pieced together at the National Maritime Systems Centre on Portsdown Hill overlooking Portsmouth.

The integrated bridge system has been developed by Anschütz UK, a firm which draws upon nearly 120 years of developing navigational systems for ships – including the first autopilot at sea – has been at the forefront of electronic charting and maintains the navigational systems on the RN’s Type 45 destroyers.

The Venturer team asked technical questions about how the system will operate as well as gaining an understanding of the training plan which will be in place to get them up to speed on using and maintaining it. 

“It is great to see the bridge systems which will soon be coming to the ship, it makes the ship come alive and turns HMS Venturer into a highly-capable next generation warship, and of course takes us one step closer to her sea trials and delivery into service,” said Commander Chris Cozens, HMS Venturer’s Senior Naval Officer.

Having been thoroughly tested, the bridge system will be carefully dismantled, packaged and sent to Rosyth for installation on Venturer later this year.

“We were delighted to host HMS Venturer’s team to give them a taste of the system they will be using once the ship is in service and to begin to build the same relationship with them that we have with the T45 crews.” said Glen Cheadle, Managing Director of Anschütz UK. 

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