HMS Sutherland Returns as UK Concludes Type 23 Frigate Upgrades

The UK Royal Navy’s HMS Sutherland has completed its life extension (LIFEX) refit at the Devonport Naval Base in southwest England.

The frigate, at the site since 2021, is the last Type 23 frigate to undergo a significant overhaul to extend its service into the mid-2030s.

Around 700 inserts and 11,500 weld repairs were performed alongside structural upgrades, making room for newer engines, generators, and machinery controls.

A 2150 Sonar was also incorporated into its system, replacing the older sonar bow dome. Several miles of new pipework and cables were also incorporated into the ship.

Defense firm Babcock will work alongside Sutherland’s 11-member company to conduct further trials of its upgraded systems in the water.

“Our focus is to now work side-by-side with Babcock as we commission systems, whilst training as a ship’s company ready to return to sea later this year,” HMS Sutherland Senior Naval Officer Lieutenant Commander Alexandra Page shared.

Mid-Life Upgrades

A total of 12 Type 23 frigates, some of which have been in service since the early 1990s, have undergone mid-life upgrades.

These refits were done to slowly integrate the upcoming Type 26 frigates as the navy’s premier anti-warfare capability.

Equipment incorporated during the upgrades include Sea Ceptor air defense systems, Type 997 Artisan air-search radar, and Martlet anti-ship guided weapons.

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