Minehunter Pembroke returns in style from £8m revamp

For the first time in over a year minehunter HMS Pembroke has hit the water after a major overhaul.

Renewed and refreshed, the hi-tech 600-tonne warship struck out across the North Sea for the 400-mile crossing to Stavanger.

As well as being the Norwegian counterpart to Aberdeen supporting the North Sea oil and gas industries, the city is also home to state-of-the-art NATO ranges.

On them, the ship was able to calibrate her upgraded sonar and mine-hunting equipment, including the SeaFox remote-controlled mine disposal system.

Supported by a team from the Royal Navy’s Maritime Capability Trials and Assessment organisation, the new-look Pembroke demonstrated her ability to hunt, classify and if required dispose of mines and other underwater ordnance, and rejoined the Fleet a day ahead of schedule.

Trials successful, the 45 crew were given the chance to explore Norway’s fourth largest city – and especially the fjords around it.

That we have managed to sail through all of our trials in such a short time and pass them all with flying colours really goes to show what great work has gone on over the past nine months

CO Lieutenant Commander Richard Kemp

Most sailors took trips to Pulpit Rock – the flat-topped cliff which rises nearly 2,000 feet above one inlet – and posed for selfies on Kjeragbolten – a giant boulder wedged in a crevasse for the past 50,000 years and sitting on top of a 3,200ft drop.

“The walk up to Pulpit Rock was pretty tough and my legs were a bit stiff the next day, but it was worth it for the amazing views of the mountains and fjords.  The locals here have been really friendly and we’ve been made welcome wherever we’ve gone,” said Marine Engineering Technician Andrew McCabe.

Back in the city, the sporting minded watched local side Viking FK (Fotballklubb) riding high in the Norwegian Eliteserien (their counterpart to the Premier League) – especially after a late 2-1 win over Tromsø.

Stavanger was the first run out since the ship entered a 42-week £8m overhaul in the specialist minehunter facility at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard on the Forth.

A small team of 50 employees, plus expert contractors, spent the bulk of 2019 toiling on the Sandown-class ship from bow to stern and keel to masthead.

They improved Pembroke’s sonar and communications systems, overhauled her engines and generators, and improved her fresh water tanks.

They left the 22-year-old warship in “great shape”, said her Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Richard Kemp – an observation confirmed by his ship’s first spell at sea.

“We’re now ready to start delivering on operations wherever we are needed.”

Pembroke is now on her way back to Faslane to conduct a short period of training before resuming operations later this year.