HMS LANCASTER returned from her last foreign trip in December 2015, after this the Ship was placed in extended readiness in Portsmouth harbour. In 2017 the ship was towed to Plymouth to start a refit period; due to the amount of structural work this was extended to two years. During this time the Ship has had over 2000 new steel inserts put into her hull to make her structurally sound again. This has been no easy refit, at one stage they had to stop cutting steel out as LANC was becoming structurally unsound and so they had to put more inserts back in before they could carry on with all of the work.
However, two years later in April 2019 HMS LANCASTER saw her first six crew members join, since then the crew has grown in numbers to over 130 to meet the first milestone of Ship Staff Move On Board. The Ships Company rose to the challenge and we successfully moved back on board HMS LANCASTER on the 14 August 2019. This success was down to the hard work and dedication of all the parties involved in the regeneration of the Ship.
The next challenge is Ready For Sea Date currently planned for the 13 December 2019, between now and then we have to re-commission all of the Marine and Weapon Engineering systems to ensure we can safely proceed to sea to carry out the basic trials. Many of the systems have laid dormant for four years and we also have to integrate all of the new equipment which includes new navigational radar, sea captor missile system, RT997 radar, communications equipment and other systems. This will involve departmental training to ensure that the Ship’s crew know how to safely operate this and also the limitations of the new equipment. On top of all this we have to ensure that each member of the crew is safe to proceed to sea and so basic firefighting and damage control exercises are taking place daily to enhance the basic knowledge of the crew.
Our new Captain, Cdr William Blackett RN joins on the 3 December 2019 just prior to taking the Ship to sea. This is an ideal time for him to join as he will get to know the Ship inside and out during the trials period in early 2020; prior to this HMS LANCASTER will enter Portsmouth under her own power for the first time in nearly four years.
Lt Cdr Mike Bray
Senior Naval Officer HMS Lancaster