UK: HMS Bristol Returns from Refit


Veteran destroyer HMS Bristol is towed into Portsmouth Harbour after a £4m refit on Tyneside – looking rather different from the vessel hauled north in October.

Her main mast was removed while in the hands of the A&P yard at Hebburn – the structure was becoming unsafe and wasn’t needed for Bristol’s role as an accommodation ship.

The trip to Tyneside – where the ship was built more than 40 years ago at the Swan Hunter yard, directly opposite the A&P works – was Bristol’s first major move in 17 years since she took up her role as the training and accommodation ship in Portsmouth Harbour, replacing the old HMS Kent.

As well as removing the mast, some 100 shipwrights, including a handful who helped build her in the late 60s, gave her a fresh lick of paint all over (hence the shinier), replaced some of her wooden decking and restored many of her wooden ladders on the upper deck, and fitted a heating and air-conditioning system throughout the destroyer (hence the cooler… although hopefully warmer in winter too).

The A&P team refurbished living spaces – there are nearly 500 bunks on board used by upwards of 17,000 sailors and Sea Cadets annually – built a 60-seat lecture theatre and installed a CCTV system to improve safety and security on board.

All in all, the overhaul will extend the destroyer’s life by up to a decade. Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Naomi Storey said:

“We are delighted to have Bristol back in Portsmouth.”

“She has been given a new lease of life as a result of this refit and the whole ships company are keen to get her up and running so that the Service personnel and youth organisations can get back on board to make use of our wonderful new facilities.”

A small crowd, including photographers and TV camera crews, watched Bristol’s return yesterday. Once rigging and a few stores have been removed, the ship will return to her berth at the foot of Whale Island on April 26. She’ll be ready for use once more from May 9.

The ship is Britain’s sole Type 82 destroyer, one of four planned to safeguard a fleet of new aircraft carriers which was cancelled in the mid-60s. The rest of the 82s were also cancelled, but the government pressed ahead with Bristol, which went on to become a trials ship for the then-new Sea Dart missile system and served as a command ship.

After service in the Falklands in 1982 she became the training vessel for Dartmouth before finally decommissioning in 1991. Three years later she took up her current role, crewed by 31 Service and a dozen civilian personnel.

Source: royalnavy, April 15, 2011;