Currently underway in Falmouth is the reactivation and conversion back to full mine-hunting capability of the Royal Navy’s two former North Ireland patrol vessels HMS Cottesmore (M32) and HMS Dulverton (M35) into mine counter-measures vessels (MCMs) for the Lithuanian Navy. A&P Group’s customer for this work is defence contractor Thales Naval, who is the prime contractor for the conversion of these two former Hunt-class MCMVs, the largest warships ever built out of glass reinforced plastic (GRP).
Built by the then Yarrow Shipbuilders, Glasgow and Vosper Thornycroft, Woolston, in 1983, Cottesmore and Dulverton were converted from their mine warfare role in 1997 into specialist patrol vessels for operation in Northern Ireland. Their minesweeping gear was replaced by three high speed rigid inflatable boats and a launching davit. Both were then decommissioned in 2004.
The work package being undertaken by A&P involves re-engining and the fitting of a new hull-mounted sonar (SONAR 2193), new command and control systems, new weapons systems, a degaussing system from Sweden’s Polyamp AB and mine disposal systems.
A&P Group specialists will also undertake the training of the new ship’s company from the Lithuanian Navy in the use of the vessel’s new shipboard systems and equipment.
Following a redundant equipment strip out period alongside in Falmouth starting in June 2009, both vessels drydocked at the end of January 2010 for their nine month reactivation and conversion and are expected to undergo sea trials in the third quarter of this year before being delivered to the Lithuanian Navy in early 2011.
The original twin Napier Deltic main engines (3,540bhp) powering the 60.3m vessels are to be replaced by twin Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels. The new propulsion system is being supplied under a turn-key contract by Finning (UK) Ltd. The contract also calls for the supply of new Twin Disc gearboxes, mounting rafts and local operating control panels. The new propulsion system has been designed to align with that of existing onboard systems, thereby making it much easier to install. When delivered to the Lithuanian Navy in 2011 as virtually new vessels, the two former Hunt’s will provide the Baltic state with platforms immensely capable of the vital work of mine clearance in Lithuanian waters, as well as contributing significantly to NATO MCM duties.
Commenting on the award of the MCM reactivation contract, Royal Navy Commander John Haworth, who has been managing the project on behalf of the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) said: ‘A&P have completed similar projects to this in the past, and as we have always been very satisfied with their service they seemed the natural choice to undertake this work.
‘A&P and Thales are not only capable of providing a very comprehensive refit; they also offer specialised training to the ship’s crew on how to use the new equipment. I have always been extremely pleased with their workmanship and their friendly, helpful attitude.’