The Royal Naval amphibious assault ship HMS Albion received the royal seal of approval when she was visited by Her Royal Highness in Plymouth.
Her Royal Highness toured the warship to receive an up-date on the work in dry dock, meet workers and help inspire a group of young guests to study science and maths and take jobs on similar engineering projects.
The two-year upgrade and upkeep in Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard, began in April and includes key upgrades to greatly enhance the ship’s capability for the Royal Navy to perform in future challenging and demanding operational situations.
The joint MOD/Babcock strategy to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and maths (jointly known as STEM) was announced during the visit with a launch event for over 120 students with engineering-related challenges for them in the huge dry dock and teachers from across Plymouth, on-board HMS Albion.
Babcock Managing Director Warships, Mike Whalley, said: “As the UK’s market-leading engineering support services company Babcock has a big interest in encouraging young people to consider careers in engineering and are proud to announce the joint STEM strategy with the Royal Navy for the Devonport site.
“The aim of the strategy is to encourage more young people to take up STEM qualifications by providing interactive, focused and also fun learning opportunities with local primary and secondary schools and further education establishments.
HMS Albion’s refit will include 300 people, including 20 Babcock apprentices making the ship the perfect location for young people interested in cutting edge engineering to get involved in STEM-related activities. The STEM project will help refresh Babcock’s pool of talented engineers on Royal Navy projects, requiring 60 graduates and 100 apprentices a year.
Commodore Ian Shipperley, Devonport Naval Base Commander, said: “We are delighted her Royal Highness Princess Anne has visited Albion in the naval base to reacquaint herself as lady sponsor of the ship. The refit is going very well. She is also very interested in the STEM initiative. Bringing children onto a warship is the best way of bringing engineering alive because engineering is traditionally seen as a dry subject in the way it is taught in the classroom. Surely no potential young engineer can fail to be inspired by seeing as fascinating a project as a warship under refit’’
Georgina Knight, 15, of Plymouth High School for girls, visited HMS Albion, and wants to become an engineer. She said: “I’ve enjoyed doing the activities today involving engineering puzzles. It was really good to see the warship and all the work on it. I was interested in seeing all the pipe work.’’
Melissa Kuo, 17, of Devonport High School for Girls said: “I have improved my teamwork skills doing these engineering challenges today on the ship. My school encourages us all to study science.’’
Over 100 alterations and additions will be completed on HMS Albion as part of the upkeep, while the major maintenance programme will include the overhaul of all engines and a complete strip-down and extensive work on all systems. This upkeep period will see more than 20,000m2 (equivalent to three football pitches) of tank blasting and preservation undertaken, over 40km of new electrical cables installed, and in excess of 1.5km of new pipe work.
The programme is being delivered under Surface Ship Support Alliance (between the MoD, Babcock and BAE Systems) Class Output Management (COM) approach, under which Babcock leads the support of all amphibious vessels.
HMS Albion is scheduled to leave Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard to start sea trials in mid 2017. When she returns to the fleet following sea trials, HMS Albion will replace sister ship HMS Bulwark as one of the Royal Navy’s key capital ships.
Babcock International Group is the UK’s market-leading engineering support services company, delivering complex and critical asset support both in the UK and overseas. With revenue of circa £4.5 billion in 2015 and an order book of circa £20 billion, we manage vital assets within a number of industry sectors including energy, defence, emergency services, transport, telecommunications and education. The unparalleled expertise of our 34,000 global employees means that – whether designing, building, operating, managing, or maintaining vital assets – Babcock is a partner that can be trusted to deliver.