The Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose welcomed her crew back on board to what is now one of the most advanced warships in the fleet after a complex refit.
Sailors are once again living onboard the ship in Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth, as a milestone in the preparations to get back to sea. HMS Montrose has been transformed with the most sophisticated ‘brains’, hard-hitting punch and far-seeing ‘eyes’ – a new command-and-control system, Sea Ceptor anti-aircraft missile system and radar.
Commodore Paul Halton, Commander Devonport Flotilla, special guest on board, addressed the crew: “This is the most important day in the life of a ship with all that follows and when you, as the ship’s company, take ownership of your ship following the extensive work that has finally been completed. But this is more than a ship, you, as the ship’s company, are the ship.
“It is a special day. There are exciting times ahead, including getting ready for sea, going to sea and the work-up of all the systems – with the newness of Sea Ceptor, for instance.
“The most significant tasking will be escort to the new carrier when she goes to the eastern seaboard of the US. I hope this will act as an extra motivation for the busier days ahead.’’
Lieutenant Commander Chris Andrews, HMS Montrose weapon engineer officer, described Sea Ceptor as revolutionary and a massive leap in the capabilities in the ship to defend itself and others.
He added: “The ship’s company are chomping at the bit and couldn’t wait to get back on the ship and take her to sea. For some, this is their first ship and they relish the chance to challenge themselves over the next few years whilst getting the opportunity to see some foreign ports of call.”
Major improvements have also been made to the sailors’ quality of life on board with an updated galley, new fridges, miles of new cabling and numerous other equipments. The mess decks (living quarters) have been upgraded including power sockets to allow the sailors to use personal equipment.
Chief Petty Officer Pat Jennings said: “The warrant officers and chief petty officers mess has been refurbished to the highest of standards with new oak-effect bulkheads and new bar, making it feel really homely.”
The MOD’s major industrial partner Babcock have also strengthened the hull and structure, with 85 inserts in the hull and an almost full replacement of the upper machinery space roof. Significant components of the main generators and the propulsion motors have been restored while fitting refurbished gas turbines ensuring that this combined diesel-electric and gas turbine ship is ready from both a propulsion and weaponry perspective for the rigours of the deployments to come.
Stuart Leonard, Babcock’s Director Warships, said: “As part of our wider undertaking to ensure the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigates are able to operate well beyond their original design life expectancy we have completed a significant work package on HMS Montrose. Alongside strengthening work to the entire hull and structure, our teams of highly skilled engineers have replaced roofing and restored elements of the generator and propulsion systems, ensuring that HMS Montrose will be ready for the demands of deployment, when it comes.
“We are extremely proud to return HMS Montrose to the fleet under the command of her new crew and look forward to working with them in the future as we continue to be trusted to deliver Type 23 support.”