'Like new' Shoreham emerges from six-month revamp

Here’s a Christmas present for the Royal Navy’s mine warfare community: HMS Shoreham looking spic and span after a six-month overhaul.

The Sandown-class ship has been rolled out of the shed looking as good as new thanks to the efforts of engineers at Babcock’s yard in Rosyth.

Up to 80 people a week – double the ship’s company – swarmed over Shoreham since June when she returned to home waters after more than three years in the Gulf.

The Babcock team found the extreme conditions in the Middle East had taken their toll of the minehunter; painting the upper decks proved to be a significant challenge, but not as much as work on the fibre-glass hull which had degraded more than expected in places.

Experts in Rosyth and Devonport worked on the solution, as Babcock project manager Dave Gibb explained, “With a fibre-glass ship, maintaining sections of the hull take time and precision. The hull is approximately 25mm thick and consists of many layers of glass cloth impregnated with resin.

“Our tradesmen would work in small steps, first cutting out, then layering each section with the fibre-glass cloth. It’s not a skill you see very often as most ships are made of steel.”

Other work carried out includes refurbishing and installing a new galley, fitting a new fire detection system and improving the high-pressure air system.

Shoreham is due to be handed back to the RN in January, ready for further trials and training before taking her place in the front line alongside her Clyde-based sisters.

All Sandowns are hauled out of the water once every five years for a complete bow-stern keel-topmast revamp. Next up will be HMS Grimsby in June 2017.