The UK Royal Navy Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel, HMS Middleton has returned to the water with the help of a hydraulic barge after spending six months ashore as part of her £7.5 million maintenance package.
The vessel went into BAE Systems’ Ship Production Hall at HM Naval Base Portsmouth in July, with her Portsmouth-based crew helping integrate the upgrades and enhancements.
HMS Middleton is now preparing to return to the Fleet for her 37th year of service with improvements to her generators, hull and living quarters which include every bed space being fitted with electrical sockets and USB ports – a highly popular addition for improving life at sea for the crew.
Gary Firbank, BAE Systems’ Project Manager for HMS Middleton said: “The load-out of HMS Middleton from the ship hall here at HM Naval Base Portsmouth marks a significant milestone within her docking programme.
“Our team has completed over 65,000 production hours, including a full structural re-baselining of the ship, with over 3km of laminating cloth being laid, extensive system enhancements, plus maintenance and defect rectification. We now look forward to embarking on the commissioning phase and readying the ship to return to sea on schedule.”
HMS Middleton is the seventh of 13 Hunt class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs) built for the Royal Navy, six of which remain in service.
These ships are the largest in the world to be built of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) and have seen service in the Falklands and the Gulf. They counter anti-ship mines by hunting them using a high definition sonar; any mines detected by sonar are disposed of by their highly-trained divers or the unmanned mine disposal system, Seafox.
HMS Middleton’s sister ship, HMS Chiddingfold (M37) is currently undergoing the final phase of maintenance as she prepares to be forward deployed to the Gulf region.