The Number 14 Dock at HM Naval Base Portsmouth has received its first warship following its £13 million restoration and upgrade, the UK Royal Navy announced.
This week, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring (D32) entered into the dock for its refit. The destroyer was manoeuvered into position and will dock down a week later with preparations starting soon after that for her refit.
“Bringing 14 Dock back to life is an exciting moment in the long history of the base providing support to the Royal Navy. This project to complete the base’s Deep Maintenance facility is the final major component of this programme, all delivered to plan, and we are ready now to support the first operational deployment by HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escorts next year,” said the base’s Infrastructure team leader, Captain Iain Greenlees.
“There is always more activity to come in refurbishing and optimising this complex site to meet the modern Navy’s changing operational needs. This programme has been delivered by many MOD authorities and large range of contractors working together, keeping the port and dockyard open for normal business throughout, and it will serve the Navy well over the next 50 years,” he added.
A new gantry crane reaching 68 metres above 14 Dock, and also able to serve Number 15, has been installed. As part of the 14 Dock regeneration, 13,500m² of its surface has been cleaned, a new caisson fitted to hold back the sea water and a sonar pit installed to accommodate vessels with hull-mounted domes.
Number 14 Dock’s regeneration is itself the final part of a £40 million investment over the last six years for the base’s Deep Maintenance facility to operate efficiently in the era of Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. The investment has also completed a modernisation of neighbouring 15 Dock (2014), and the adjacent workshops (2018), for efficient upkeep of the Royal Navy’s carrier escort force.
Key suppliers in this programme have been BAE Systems providing the project management, Ravenstein on the caisson, Colas for civil engineering and De Kok for the gantry crane.
“BAE Systems is proud to have led this important programme for the Royal Navy, providing project management and engineering support, and enlisting key suppliers,” said BAE Systems Head of Estates and Programme, Chris Delahunt. “We are excited by the results, and proud to be part of the long term and collaborative partnership with the Royal Navy that has enabled us to deliver this additional capability required to support delivery of the Carrier Strike Group next year despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Number 14 Dock was officially declared open last Friday by Alison Bailey, whose husband is the current Naval Base Commander, Commodore JJ Bailey.
The programme started in 2017 with the building of a new caisson, delivered in December 18, after which the dock was drained for the first time in 15 years. 2019 was spent replacing dock fittings and optimising the structure for use by Type 45 destroyers, with construction of the gantry crane in the Netherlands. The crane was delivered to site by barge on a windy night in February and then erected in March. With easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions, final commissioning of the crane will come in July.
The gantry crane has made a significant change to the dockyard skyline. It replaces three previous rail cranes and is designed to be able to make the heavier lifts, such as any exchange of a warship’s main gun mounting, from either 14 or 15 dock.
The last ship to undergo deep maintenance in 14 Dock was HMS Enterprise in 2003.