Refitted HMS Chiddingfold Gets to Grips with Her New Kit
Minehunter HMS Chiddingfold is nearing the end of her long road out of refit by coming through a month-long examination of the Navy’s Operational Sea Training in Scotland. The Portsmouth-based minehunter was out of action for 572 days undergoing a massive overhaul, including receiving new caterpillar engines – the first Royal Navy ship to get them.
This spectacular firework display comes courtesy of the 30mm main gun Britain’s most advanced minehunter – HMS Chiddingfold, – which has spent the past few weeks getting to grips with her new kit.
The Portsmouth-based Hunt-class ship spent 572 days out of action undergoing one of the most thorough overhauls a Royal Navy minehunter has ever received.
Since emerging from that revamp earlier this year ‘Cheery Chid’ and her 45-strong ship’s company have been undergoing trials, tests and above all demanding training.
The latter reached its climax, for now, with a month of Operational Sea Training – the benchmark for any Royal Navy warship, for it determines that a ship’s company is ready for the rigours of deployment.
OST, carried out under the auspices of the internationally-renowned Flag Officer Sea Training organisation, is split between the Plymouth Exercise Areas for most of the surface fleet, and the west coast of Scotland for submarines and small ships.
With her brand new caterpillar engines – more reliable and more efficient than her old Deltics – purring away, Chiddingfold made her way from Portsmouth to Faslane for her month-long work-out.
The British weather lived up to expectations with gale force winds and rough seas battering the minehunter on her 580-nautical-mile journey. Even with the uncomfortable conditions, she pressed on and made the Scottish lochs in good time to begin her training.
This has been the first time the crew of HMS Chiddingfold have been put through their paces on OST since an extensive repropulsion project began when the ship returned from three years in the Gulf in late 2011.
The sailors had to deal with a wide range of scenarios from dealing with fires and floods onboard to assisting other vessels in distress, through to weapon firings, dealing with attacks from a range of threats and training in her core role of mine warfare.
OST uses realistic scenarios to test the entire ship’s company, not only in their individual roles but also as a team, preparing them for operational theatres around the world, provide humanitarian assistance and work in unison with allied nations.
For many of the crew it was their first time on OST, having joined Chid straight from training.
“It has been very beneficial to get up to Scotland and put training into practise on OST after the time in refit. It has been challenging but you learn a lot,” said diver AB(D) Kevin Beecher.
With OST done for now – there’s more training to come in the autumn and winter – Cheery Chid has returned to Portsmouth where her sailors are now preparing for some well-deserved summer leave.
Press Release, July 16, 2013; Image: Royal Navy