Wednesday, February 3, 2010

HMS Illustrious arrives in Scotland for maintenance work

HMS Illustrious arrives in Scotland for maintenance work
February 3,2010

An Equipment and Logistics news article

The Royal Navy flagship HMS Illustrious arrived in Scotland this week for a £40m maintenance and upgrade programme which will be carried out at Rosyth Dockyard in Fife.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, accompanied by Commodore Charles Stevenson, Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, sailed out to welcome the massive aircraft carrier as she passed under the Forth Bridges on her way to the jetty at Crombie, where all ammunition and stores will be unloaded before work starts in March.

The Ministry of Defence contract with Babcock will provide employment for about 300 people for eighteen months - until August 2011. More importantly it is part of a continuous work programme at the dockyard before the assembly of the new Navy super carriers starts.

Well over 400 staff at Rosyth are already working on the project to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, and large parts have been arriving since the end of last year.

HMS Illustrious - affectionately known as 'Lusty' in the Royal Navy - underwent a major refit at Rosyth back in 2003/04, enabling her to carry out 21st century carrier strike operations and deploy Joint Force Harriers.

This was part of a hat-trick of carrier refits totalling £360m which built a third mast on the ship and overhauled the computer systems, flight deck, living quarters and communication networks.

Since then she has been deployed to the Indian Ocean, with both helicopters and fast jets, was involved in the evacuation of Lebanon, and for the past 12 months has been the Royal Navy's flagship and strike carrier, leading the multi-national Joint Warrior exercises off Scotland's west coast.

This time she will not be having a refit, but will undergo essential maintenance to ensure the carrier can continue in service until the second new carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is in service, and to make her more fuel efficient, improving her green credentials.

The work includes:

replacing 500 metres of pipework, 650 valves and all eight exhausts;
painting the ship with 540,000 litres of paint which improves fuel efficiency;
a comprehensive structural survey;
renewal of essential safety certification; and
various improvements to make the ship and its crew more environmentally efficient.

Jim Murphy also met new apprentices at the dockside during the visit. He said:

"UK defence contracts provide vital skilled work to companies in Scotland and have generated a welcome resurgence in our Scottish shipbuilding industry. It's heartening to see businesses - some of them small family-owned firms - with full order books, able to take on young apprentices and give them a real future.

"And it's amazing to think that in just a decade, eight Navy ships have been launched on the Clyde, and an incredible 45 ships have undergone maintenance and refit at Rosyth, all work worth billions of pounds for Scotland's economy and employment prospects.

"Aircraft carriers have a crucial role within the Armed Forces and on operations worldwide, so these upgrades are part of the Government's strategy to ensure we have the best people, the best equipment and capabilities to meet modern day defence challenges."

Mike Pettigrew, Babcock's Managing Director Warships, said:

"We warmly welcome back HMS Illustrious under this new contract which has been awarded as part of the developing 'Surface Ship Support Alliance', a partnership between the MOD, Babcock and BAE Systems Surface Ships. The work will be challenging, but as always I have every faith that the team will deliver a highly capable warship back to the fleet."

Commodore Charles Stevenson added:

"This work will allow HMS Illustrious to continue as a highly flexible strategic defence asset for a number of years, capable of taking part in military operations across the globe, whether it's delivering troops, launching aircraft which can provide close air support to troops on the ground, disaster relief and humanitarian aid."

During the upgrade HMS Ark Royal will become flagship of the Royal Navy fleet.

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