The UK Royal Navy Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel, HMS Chiddingfold (M37) is currently undergoing the final phase of maintenance as she prepares to be forward deployed in the Gulf.
The minehunter entered the dry dock in Portsmouth Naval Base and there, work will take place to ensure she is ready for three years of Gulf operations.
For the ‘docking down’, naval base tugs helped maneuver the minehunter into the narrow dock and 10 hours later, with the water drained away, Chiddingfold’s hull was accessible for contractors to inspect.
The ship’s company currently with HMS Chiddingfold, Mine Counter Measures 2 Crew 1 (MCM2 Crew 1) known as the Fighting Aces, spent time on her sister ship HMS Ledbury (M30) in the Gulf last year. The current crew will now continue to work with the Royal Navy’s industry partners to ensure the ship is ready for her voyage to the Gulf.
The crew will use their experience to ensure the ship is ready to deploy following the usual extensive trials and training. They will then hand over to the crew responsible for sailing her to the region. When she sails, MCM2 Crew 1 will move onto HMS Cattistock where they will conduct operational sea training before deploying.
In the Gulf, HMS Chiddingfold will relieve her sister ship HMS Ledbury to become one of four RN mine countermeasure ships in the region. It will the first time she has returned to the Gulf since 2017 and will be stationed at the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.
At 60m long and 10m wide, the Hunt Class MCM vessels were the largest Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP) vessels in the world at their introduction and have been in service for over 30 years. All six are base-ported at Portsmouth Naval Base.