Royal Navy minehunter HMS Chiddingfold returns to water after extensive refit

Royal Navy minehunter HMS Chiddingfold was launched at BAE Systems’ Portsmouth site after undergoing what the company described as the “most extensive package of work ever carried out to the plastic hulls of any Hunt Class mine countermeasure vessels.”

The vessel was refitted after returning from a three-year stint in the Persian Gulf in September 2017.

The first phase of HMS Chiddingfold’s upkeep was carried out in the former ship hall facility, which is now the Minor Vessels Centre of Specialisation. It offers engineers 360-degree access to the ship no matter what the weather, cutting down upkeep times.

HMS Chiddingfold’s upkeep program included an extensive blasting of her hull, ship’s side and decks to prepare her for repainting. She also received upgrades to many of her systems including firefighting equipment, new fuel tanks, salvage generator and underwater valve replacements. There were also modifications to the electrical systems, and a new galley was installed so that the crew have better on board facilities.

At 60m long and 10m wide, the Hunt Class vessels are the largest Glass-Reinforced Plastic vessels in the world and have been in service for over 30 years. All six are base-ported at Portsmouth Naval Base and maintained by BAE Systems teams.

These works are part of the £600 million Maritime Services Delivery Framework (MSDF) contract awarded to BAE Systems in 2014 to both manage Portsmouth Naval Base and to carry out all the work required to support the Portsmouth flotilla, which represents more than half of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet.

BAE Systems’ Warship Support Director, Jon Pearson, said: “HMS Chiddingfold moving out of the ship hall is another great delivery milestone, but the work certainly doesn’t end here. We have a busy Christmas period across the naval base, not least working on the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, following her return home from flying trials in America. We’re also preparing for the first quarter of 2019, which is looking like it will be the busiest period the yard has seen in 10 years.”

Portsmouth Naval Base Commander, Commodore Jim Higham added: “Congratulations to BAE Systems and everyone in Team Portsmouth in delivering on our promises in loading HMS Chiddingfold out of the ship hall on time. I am so proud of our Team Portsmouth ethos of working with all industry partners, which really is imperative to the fleet and our operational needs. I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot ship association which I think will provide excellent opportunities for both sides to deepen our understanding of each other.”

Photo: Photo: BAE Systems