Royal Navy Type 23 frigate arrives at dry dock for upgrade

A UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed that the Type 23 frigate “HMS Kent is currently in dry dock in Devonport and is undergoing maintenance work.”

Britain’s prime shipbuilder, Babcock, will upgrade the vessel at its Plymouth dockyard in the south of England.

In an update on the social media platform X, the company added that the “the Type 23 frigate will undergo a deep maintenance package to bring her structure and systems up to the latest standard to ensure she is able to continue to fulfil the operational duties required of her.”

The Ministry of Defence did not disclose any details regarding the timeline for the ship’s maintenance period for reasons of operational security.

Babcock X post.

What systems are being upgraded?

Specifically, the main capability upgrade will be the Power Generation and Machinery control Upgrade (PGMU). This involves replacing the ship’s four diesel generators with modern equivalents to provide greater fuel efficiency and performance, especially in hotter climes.

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It also involves replacing both motor-generator sets as well as changes and improvements to switchboards and cooling systems.

HMS Kent arrives at Babcock’s Devonport dry dock in Devonport, Plymouth on 9 July 2024. Credit: Babcock via X.

HMS Kent (F78) is a Type 23 Duke-class frigate commissioned in 24-years-ago.

These ships are powered by a diesel-electric and gas system that consists of two Rolls Royce Spey SM1A 34,000 horsepower (hp) gas turbines and two Alstom 1.5MW 4,400hp electric motors. There are also four Alstom 12 RP2000CZ 1.3MW 7,000hp auxiliary diesels.

Using the diesel-electric motors, the economical speed is 15 knots (k) and the range is 7,800 miles, reaching a maximum speed of 28k.

Status of the frigate fleet

As of July 2024, three Type 23 ships are in upkeep and the Royal Navy currently have six in active service.

This comes off the back of plans for the service to axe HMS Westminster (F237) and HMS Argyll (F231), with the vessels being respectively retired and sold back to former manufacturer, BAE Systems.

This did not deter the former Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, who has since lost his seat in the general election, from stating that Britain will undergo a “Golden Age of shipbuilding” during his keynote speech at First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference in May.

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