HMAS Parramatta to complete anti-ship missile defence upgrade by April

Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac-class frigate HMAS Parramatta, the sixth ship to enter the Anti-Ship Missile Defence Upgrade programme, is preparing to undock in mid April.

The ship has been undergoing a range of modifications at the BAE Systems shipyard in Henderson, Australia over the past 12 months. Apart from the addition of a ‘cupola’ mast to house the CEA Phased Array Radar, and a coat of the new Royal Australian Navy ‘haze grey’ paint, the ship has undergone engineering changes and maintenance tasks delivered by BAE Systems, Saab Australia and Naval Ship Management.

While significant elements of the combat system were replaced or upgraded, and large sections of the propulsion and electrical generation system were removed for overhaul prior to replacement, a significant body of work was also undertaken with assistance from uniform staff to maintain and overhaul equipment that remained.

Following a period operating from Fleet Base East, Parramatta arrived at Fleet Base West in February 2015 and undertook a safety and preparation phase before docking in late April. During this time, the vessel was completely emptied of all stores and supplies, de-fuelled, and cleaned in an operation undertaken by the crew and contractors. Removal of some major radar and other antennae and upper deck fixtures also commenced, allowing more efficient use of time on the dock to achieve the major upgrade work.

Once docked, material control of the vessel was handed to Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Anzac System Program Office, and the crew moved to sister ship HMAS Warramunga for return to Navy service following completion of the upgrade.

‘Rip out’ began in the operations room to make way for the upgraded Combat System, the Guided Missile Vertical Launch system was removed to allow access for engine removal (which then allows them to be overhauled offsite and replaced in the vessel prior to undocking), and disconnection of systems and removal of upper deck mast structures began, with the ‘classic’ Anzac class masts being lifted off in May 2015.

The new masts, built on the base of the original masts with new upper structures, cables, services, and paint scheme, were lifted into place in November 2015; the highest mast being a full seven decks above the main upper deck.

By October 2015, the entire outer hull had been blasted back and coated in a red preservation undercoat, making Parramatta nearly unrecognisable from her former glory of only months before. Application of the more traditional grey top coat commenced in September, and the ship will be fully painted and ready to be returned to the water by mid April 2016.

In total, Parramatta will have received the services of over 600,000 hours of individual labour from an array of Australian industry and uniform personnel, resulting in a significant capability increase.