in Defence

Babcock starts work on minehunter

Posted 14 August 2012

Babcock has started work on Sandown class minehunter HMS Grimsby, now in dock in Rosyth for a six month Support Period (Docking) (SP(D)).

The support period is the first Sandown class refit to be undertaken under the Surface Ship Support Alliance (SSSA) Class Output Management (COM) Phase 2 arrangements, which came into effect in April, under which Babcock leads the Sandown class COM team.  The SSSA is an alliance between the MoD, Babcock and BAE Systems.

In addition to a substantial maintenance package, the refit programme includes a number of upgrades and improvements that will significantly enhance Grimsby ’s operational capability, sustainability, and habitability standards.  The workscope has been developed by the Babcock-led COM team, based on knowledge of the vessel’s material state and previous experience of Sandown class refits.  A significant pre-docking material assessment was carried out to capture the material condition of the ship so as to develop the work package to reflect the ship’s needs and minimise the amount of emergent work.  

Upgrades will include a first-of-class replacement of the entire fire detection system.  Further upgrades that HMS Grimsby will receive, which have also been successfully completed by Babcock in previous Sandown class refits, include an upgraded high pressure air system (which extends system life and offers cost and space benefits); the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) which provides a coherent infrastructure to enable information sharing and collaborative working across the defence sector network; the Centrix communications system; fresh water embarkation unit (monitoring purification of shore supplied water); a package to enhance operations in hot climates; and a galley upgrade package.

In addition, the maintenance package includes an extensive programme of protective coatings renewal on both the hull and weather decks, which will improve the vessel’s sustainability in the extreme climates, as well as removal and overhaul of the bow thruster units and a considerable amount of work on the air conditioning system.  

Under the COM structure, and Phase 2 now underway under which this support period is being conducted, the COM team for each class of vessel is made up of a cohesive team from the MoD, Royal Navy and industry, with significantly greater delegation to industry as tactical decider, with the MoD as strategic decider, on a performance-based ‘contracting for availability’ basis.  Measures being incorporated into this support period as a result of experience on previous Sandown class refits include the pre-docking material assessment, as well as a more efficient method of ballast removal (through overboard discharges rather than through the ship) and early removal of system components.  

As Phase 2 develops the improving knowledge of the material state being built up by the Sandown class COM team will enable workscope development for future refits to be increasingly well informed, to achieve further efficiencies and savings.  

Babcock warship support head of operations Mike Weeks said: “The COM team will be drawing on its close working relationships and extensive experience, and working hard to ensure that this refit is completed safely, to quality and schedule, and at optimum value for money.  The team’s goal is to return HMS Grimsby to her Operational Commander in the best possible material state on completion of her short but very busy SP(D).”  

The MoD’s team leader for frigates and mine counter-measures vessels, Captain Jonathan Fry, said: “HMS Grimsby ’s docking period will be a good early test of the Alliance’s resolve to deliver a complex package of work to meet the Royal Navy’s demanding operational schedule.  The Sandown Class forms an essential element of both the security of UK waters and conflict prevention across the globe, which is why the upgrades being installed in this SP(D) are so important.”   

HMS Grimsby is expected to leave Rosyth for sea trials at the end of 2012.

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