Babcock completes Life Extension program of British Navy HMS Portland Type 23 Duke-class frigate

According to information published by the British Royal Navy on December 2, 2020, the British company Babcock has completed the Life Extension program of the British Royal Navy HMS Portland Type 23 or Duke-class frigate to take her to sea by Easter 2021.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The British Navy HMS Portland Type 23 or Duke-class frigate. (Picture source British Navy)

The British Navy HMS Portland is the latest ship in the Type 23 flotilla to undergo a major overhaul under the LIFEX or Life Extension program which her sisters have gone through over the past five or six years.

The HMS Portland is a Type 23 or Duke-class frigate in service with the British Royal Navy. The ship was accepted into service by the Royal Navy on 15 December 2000 and was commissioned on 3 May the following year. 

After completing her last deployment in 2017 – to the North and South Atlantic – the ship was handed over to defense firm Babcock in 2018 to start her refit in the frigate sheds on the Devonport waterfront.

HMS Portland began her refit in early 2018 and as one of the youngest frigates, she likely required fewer repairs to her hull. She was fitted with Artisan 997 radar for the first time but does not appear to have received the PGMU. She is the first of 8 Type 23 to be fitted with new Ultra Electronics S2150 Bow Mounted Sonar (replacing the legacy Type 2050). This system will also be migrated onto the Type 26s in the future.

In the nearly three years which since passed, in the first for her class, two electric propulsion motors were removed, rewired and replaced, the Sea Wolf missile system has been ripped out and Sea Ceptor installed in its place, the 997 surveillance and 1084 navigational radars added, and the new to Royal Navy 2150 hull-mounted sonar to sharpen her anti-submarine warfare teeth.

For good measure, machinery, computer and IT systems onboard have been overhauled, as have mess decks which were designed in the 1980s so they can meet the needs and expectations of 21st Century sailors. Aside from refurbishment of the mess decks and drive train, the ships are being fitted with a transom flap which can add up to one knot (1.9 km/h; 1.2 mph) to the top speed and reduce fuel consumption by 13%, and Intersleek anti-fouling paint which added two knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) to the top speed. 

Citing the "Save the Royal Navy" website, Each frigate undergoing life extension (LIFEX) refit has a hull survey and repairs, the Sea Wolf missile system replaced with Sea Ceptor, new Artisan radar (if not already fitted) and miscellaneous other upgrades and refurbishments.

The Type 23 HMS Portland is now armed with one 32-cell Sea Wolf GWS.26 VLS canisters for 32 Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missiles which have a range from 1 to 25 km. The ship is also armed with two quad Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers, two twins 12.75 in (324 mm) Sting Ray torpedo tubes, one BAE 4.5 inch Mk 8 naval gun, two 30 mm DS30M Mk2 guns, or, 2 × 30 mm DS30B guns, two Miniguns, and four General-purpose machine guns.