HMS Richmond Undergoes Trials After Major Overhaul in Readiness for Carrier Escort Duty

The UK Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, HMS Richmond (F239) has spent the past six weeks undergoing trials and training after a major overhaul in readiness for escorting new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden deployment.

The Plymouth-based frigate is earmarked as one of the escorts assigned to the carrier battle group when it sails next year, shielding the 65,000-tonne leviathan from hostile submarines.

The ship completed a lengthy refit in the hands of Babcock in February, since when she’s been testing the newly-fitted systems and shaking off the cobwebs after many months out of action.

As well as receiving many of the upgrades which the rest of the frigate flotilla has enjoyed (notably replacing the aged Sea Wolf air defense missile with the new Sea Ceptor), Richmond has been fitted with new engines to act as the testbed for the next generation of warships.

HMS Richmond is the first Royal Navy vessel to undergo this overhaul to be fitted with the PGMU (Power Generation and Machinery Controls Update) propulsion system – a new generation of diesel generators, accompanied by a fully-modernized control and surveillance system, making it easier to control and monitor the engines and diagnose any problems.

The same system will be used to power the Navy’s eight new Type 26 frigates, led by HMS Glasgow, being built as replacements for Richmond and her submarine-hunting sisters.

During the trials in testing conditions in the English Channel – including a battering from Storm Jorge and a 33° roll which tested the ‘sea legs’ of Richmond’s 200-strong ship’s company – the new propulsion system proved itself to be reliable, more efficient and generated more power for the ship’s weapons and sensors – vital as technology upgrades means they will demand more power in the future.

During her trials, the ship has worked with Merlin (AW101) and Wildcat (AW159) helicopters, tested her submarine-hunting towed array sonar – run out of the ship’s stern in a long tube – for the first time in several years.

HMS Richmond was launched on 6 April 1993 by Lady Hill-Norton, wife of the late Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Hill-Norton, and was the last warship to be built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders. She sailed from the builders on the River Tyne in November 1994. She is named for the Dukedom of Richmond.

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