The Royal Navy’s amphibious command ship HMS Albion has embarked her crew marking a major milestone in the ship’s multi-million pound capability upgrade in Plymouth.
Almost 350 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines moved onboard for the first time in almost six years.
The occasion was marked with an official handing over of the ship from Babcock to HMS Albion and the ship celebrated with the galley serving its traditional first fish and chips in HM Naval Base Devonport.
The ship’s senior naval officer, Commander Stuart Yates, said: “Today is a proud day for the Royal Navy, HMS Albion and Babcock. Moving onboard of my ship’s company of sailors and Royal Marines marks a pivotal point in HMS Albion’s rejuvenation and confirms that we remain on track to commence operations in 2017.’’
HMS Albion will return to sea in the summer and it’s now all hands on deck to make final preparations.
Successful restoration of Albion is a credit to the enduring partnership between the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation and MOD industrial partner Babcock.
HMS Albion project manager, James Morton, of Babcock, said: “Babcock have undertaken a large package of system, maintenance and engineering upgrades allowing the ship to be regenerated after a long lay-up period in Devonport. We will continue to work closely with the ship’s company to support and maintain her progress towards her next key event of sailing and beyond into future operations.’’
To date, 1.2 million man-hours of work have been needed to ready the 20,000 tonne ship for operations. The major package of work will see in excess of 110 improvements incorporated. It is dominated by an improved propulsion system and combat systems compared to her sister HMS Bulwark.
The new combat computer brain will manage the upgraded weapons and sensors, which includes a more capable surveillance radar and improved defensive weapon system. And operating in warmer climates will be easier with the new cooling for the propulsion system.