UK’s Type 23 frigate back in action after major upgrade

HMS Portland, the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate, is ready to take its place on the front line of naval operations after completing 8-month long regeneration.

Eight months after emerging from a major refit in its home base of Devonport – and four and a half years after the last deployment – the second youngest frigate in the Royal Navy has passed its “sternest test to date,” according to the navy.

Beyond delivering another Type 23 frigate to the front-line fleet – the entire class of 12 ships has undergone or is undergoing the upgrade, which includes installing the Artisan 3D radar and replacing the aged Sea Wolf missile system with the new Sea Ceptor. Now, HMS Portland’s completion of Operational Sea Training marks the first test of a new crewing model being trialled on the ship.

That model assigns sailors for specific missions: submarine hunting, air-defence, maritime security and so on. The aim is to get the most out of the ships – and those who serve in them.

The ship has had to adapt its routines and how it deals with incidents – particularly firefighting/flooding and recovering casualties – while the team from the Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) in Devonport who prepare British and Allied warships for deployments around the world have devised a new regime to train and assess Portland’s sailors.

The frigate’s crew has gone through two weeks of operational sea safety training (OSST) including damage control, navigation, engineering, sea boat operations, and other seafaring operations.

And following that, the crew underwent four weeks of warfighting operational sea training (WOST) carrying out a combat mission in the face of potential air attacks, submarine attacks, torpedo and bomb hits, weapons, sensors, machinery breaking down.

“In under eight months we’ve gone from emerging from refit to becoming a fully operational warship – that’s an impressive ‘flash to bang’ for a state-of-the-art frigate,” said Commander Tim Leeder, Portland’s Commanding Officer.

HMS Portland is a Type 23 Duke-class frigate. Based at HMNB Devonport in Plymouth, the ship was launched by Lady Heather Brigstocke on 15 May 1999. Following successful completion of sea trials, it was formally commissioned into the Royal Navy on 3 May 2001 at Devonport Dockyard.

Photo: HMS Portland; Photo by: Royal Navy