HMS Iron Duke, a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, has returned to sea operations after more than five years. This notable return follows the successful completion of a substantial refurbishment. The frigate departed from Plymouth under the support of Babcock engineers, who collaborated with the ship’s crew to prepare it for sea at Babcock’s Devonport facility.
Babcock International, the defense company behind the extensive renovation, revealed that the overhaul represented the largest for Duke-class ships in their life extension program to date. “The refit involved 1.7 million labor hours contributed by shipwrights, engineers, technicians, and experts from Babcock’s team in conjunction with the Royal Navy, performing double the amount of major structural work compared to any other Duke-class overhaul,” Babcock International disclosed.
The frigate underwent numerous upgrades to its warfare, communication, and navigation systems to ensure its readiness for future naval assignments. The ship’s IT systems were modernized, reflecting technological advancements and updated living quarters.
Originally designed to serve for 20 years during the 1970s and early 80s, the refit means that HMS Iron Duke can continue its front-line duties until the successors of her class, the Type 26 and 31 frigates, are introduced later this decade.
Gary Simpson, Managing Director of Babcock’s Marine Support business, expressed pride in collaborating with the HMS Iron Duke crew to prepare the vessel for her next assignment. He expressed eagerness to continue supporting HMS Iron Duke in its future operations and to collaborate with the Royal Navy in life extension projects for other Duke-class ships.
Commander Charles Wheen, the Commanding Officer of HMS Iron Duke, stated, “After the refit, HMS Iron Duke is back at sea, ready to start a rigorous trials and training program. The ship is in excellent shape, boasting new exciting capabilities. Our challenge is to fine-tune those capabilities and restore the ship to front-line operations as quickly as possible.”
The ship’s return to sea operations signifies a significant achievement resulting from the combined efforts of Babcock’s industrial team, who completed the upkeep, DE&S personnel who managed the contract, and Royal Navy personnel who prepared the ship for sea operations, noted Captain Steve Large – DE&S Type 23 Strategic Class Authority Team Leader.
HMS Iron Duke will now embark on comprehensive sea trials and testing to ensure its readiness for operational tasks later in the year.