HMS Lancaster entered a period of “extended readiness” in Portsmouth in 2017.

Many feared the vessel would be paid off and disposed of at the time, however, she received a refit that finished in 2019 and it included the fitting of the Artisan 3D radar, Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles and strengthening the backbone of the ship.

The Type 23 Frigate arrived back in HMNB Portsmouth, in December 2019.

Fears that the vessel would spend the rest of her career tied up alongside before being disposed of were circulating widely in 2017. The fears were calmed however in the form of a response to a written parliamentary question asked by Nicholas Soames (then MP for Mid Sussex) and answered by the then Secretary of State for Defence. Harriett Baldwin said:

“On current plans, the refit for HMS LANCASTER will commence in mid-2017. She is presently alongside in Portsmouth and is maintained with a minimal ship’s company until her refit.”

According to the Royal Navy in a news release here:

“A month after celebrating her 30th birthday, The Queen’s Frigate has proved herself ready to resume UK defence operations after a refit giving her the latest in Royal Navy hardware. Known as the ‘Red Rose’, HMS Lancaster – whose sponsor is Her Majesty The Queen in her role as Duke of Lancaster – has undergone extensive upgrades mirroring the major changes across the Duke class frigates.

These include the Artisan 3D radar, improved navigational radar and the new-generation Sea Ceptor missile system to protect herself any other vessels in her convoy or strike group from air attacks. What was once known as a warship’s Fleet Date Inspection has been renamed and the process adjusted but the outcome is the same; the Royal Navy can now call upon another general purpose frigate.”

Commanding Officer, Commander Will Blackett, said:

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve been maintaining our focus on bringing Lancaster back to readiness so that we can play our part in Royal Navy operations again. My crew have done brilliantly well getting us to this point but there is still a lot of hard work to get through. HMS Lancaster has been a fabulous asset to the nation across three decades and our goal is to make these final years of her service the finest of all.”

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Rob Collinson
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Rob Collinson

Welcome back!

Bill
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Bill

Just in time to get the ‘warship availability’ quota up to 82%!

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

Cynic….but?

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

I do like the look of the T23’s, sort of traditional looking. But with all those corners and extra platforms I’ll bet their Radar Cross Section is about as big as an Aircraft Carrier’s.

OK may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the [radar] picture 🙂

Cheers CR

HF
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HF

I was talking to a senior rating from a T23 last year. He said even though they were built all that time ago they had started to incorporate measures to reduce the radar signature.

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

A T23 when originally built had the RCS of a trawler. Angled bulkheads and doors and no corners that form a radar reflector made the RCS really small at certain angles and bearings.

As the extras got added the RCS increased but not by much. Now that the 911 trackers have gone the RCS should be back down. No big radar dishes to reflect radar energy.

So when a T23 deploys soft kill such as chaff, DLF or Siren its already at an advantage as they make nice attractive targets. There is plenty of life left in them yet!!

Meirion X
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Meirion X

I thought it was the case that the RCS is low.
Thanks for confirming T23s have plenty of life left in them, GB!

Daveyb
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Daveyb

How much additional strengthening is required of the ship’s backbone, as noted in the beginning? I had heard the ships have suffered from cracking, but is this mostly down to age?

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

All ships crack and steel wastes/rusts You simply replace the steel as and when. Most T23s have lots of small inserts dotted all over the place. One one or two I have organised small steel repairs quite recently.
Compare that to a commercial ship where it’s not unusual for a tanker to replace 150+ tonnes of Hull steel on a docking and their plate is usually inches thick in places.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

If that’s the case it’s not an issue, but it sounds to me like they may have tried to do work on the keel to try and sort out time induced stress. Now my experience is more around small boats, but I know a fair few ships have been lost to hogging and sagging when a badly designed keel could not take the dynamic stress in a high sea state. I’m not quite sure I would be that happy to be on a ship with a heath Robinson keel. If it’s the keel they have had to playing with, I… Read more »

HF
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HF

30 years is still old, even without the stresses of cold war requirements.

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Why? They are well looked after and the equipment and Hull is well maintained.
Obselecence on RN vessels is a problem as the makers of kit onboard may no longer exist. Hence you upgrade equipment

HF
Guest
HF

I think the average active service for a surface escort during the cold war was around 20 years. Even without the strains of service then it still seems a long time to me. Did I read that this class also had some unexpected hull problems which has rewquired some extensive repairs ?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Should we not be increasing the build rate of Type 26 and 31 instead of these upgrades?

Cleary increasing their numbers and adding some additional firepower would help matters even further.

None the less, welcome back!

Cam
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Cam

We still need frigates whilst the ships are being built, looks like we will still need type 23s for a few years yet if it’s a like for like replacement, but I have a feeling a cost cutting exercise will take place and we will scrap some type 23s before they have a replacement fully built.

BB85
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BB85

Yeah if it had have been planned better the T23 replacements would have been entering service instead of the R2s. So the need for engine replacements etc is a complete false economy caused by the treasury. It looks like most T23 will continue 10-15 years beyond their original out of service dates.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

The new diesel gens for T23(ASW)s are an insurance if some T26 frigates are delayed for some reason.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

A T26 replacement for HMS Richmond, has not started build yet! Only two in build at the moment.

Ron
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Ron

Welcome back to the fleet, but I wonder how long that will last. The reason for my comment is in refrence to what I have just been reading in todays METRO 06/07/2020 Army to be slashed by 20,000 to make way for cyber warfare. They are saying that under the spending review plans upto 20,000 troops could be slashed, airfields to be closed, helicopters to be taken out of service, the RM Brigade could be disbanded and the MCM squadrons could be axed. Apparently this is from a leaked document from the defence review in Autumn. If this is only… Read more »

Nick C
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Nick C

Almost identical statistics were in yesterday’s Sunday Times, with the rider that a lot of it is “shroud waving” to get a head of opposition steam against the cutting of your favourite part of the Armed Forces, ie if you are a retired Marine you can now express your opposition to your MP. What is not clear is whether the forthcoming review will actually look at current and emerging threats, and then give the necessary resources to fund what is needed. If you believe the scuttlebut the man Cummings (de facto Prime Minister, since the current incumbent is incompetent) simply… Read more »

Cam
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Cam

So what new platforms will Oz be buying Then apart from the already ordered? Or huge troop numbers increase? Or is the increase just Needed for Australia to be a true regional power and have multiple assets at sea constantly protecting that region and comiting to global efforts on piracy and war on terrorism.

Sceptical Richard
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Sceptical Richard

Well they have just announced a buy of AGM158C LRASM, the first one outside the US. We’re still faffing around wondering what to replace Harpoon with and if we can afford it.

Nick C
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Nick C

Hi Cam.
There is a pretty comprehensive précis on the Defense News website. Broadly they are pressing ahead with the current programmes for nine frigates and up to twelve submarines. They are intending to add new MCM capability, new long range anti ship missiles for F18’s and F35’s, replacements for C130’s and other aircraft, upgrading cyber, radars etc, adding new support ships. It looks like that have had a solid review of the threat and don’t like what they see.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Sounds great, now Canada need to start pulling their weight.

Nick C
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Nick C

Indeed. The Canadians have a lousy record in procurement. They are only just putting a new ASW helo into service when they could have had the Merlin at least 15 years ago. When they backed out of the contract I think Westland banked more then £600m in damages.

julian1
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julian1

Perhaps they will buy 2x slightly used QE class carriers and F35Bs!

Cam
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Cam

Can’t see that sort of cuts lol! 20,000 army! We wouldn’t have the soldiers left to man our New platforms…

Steve
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Steve

It’s the typical PR stunt used by policticans / civil servants. Leak news of massive cuts and make the newspapers talk about it for a few months, and then when the actual cuts are released, the media can take credit for the reduction in the cuts and not focus on the actual reduction in capability. My guess real cuts will be in order of a 1/5th or 1/4 of what is stated, maybe reduction of 5k soldiers.

Andy
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Andy

Why would we reduce the army at all?

To save money?

The government is trying to increase employment, they are furloughing people, it is completely illogical to let any civil servant go never mind infantry.

HF
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HF

MCM squadrons – last time they were under threat the MoD got a stiff note from the USA telling them to keep them.

John Clark
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John Clark

As previously discussed, likely targets…..

The Royal Marines will be reduced to 4,000 ish and turned into a dedicated raiding/ spec ops force.

Albion and Bulwark withdrawn.

Army reduced to 60,000 ish, Challenger2 withdrawn.

Tempest taken around the back of the Barn and quietly shot ( then buried in a shallow grave in the subtext of the review) and replaced with a follow on F35A order to replace early Thypoons.

Puma withdrawn without replacement.

Upside hmmm..

Properly funded Carrier Strike perhaps???!!

BB85
Guest
BB85

When they talk about withdrawing Albion and Bulwark, do they expect all RM operations to be conducted from the carriers? The Frigates will not hold enough to do anything other than intercept drug smugglers. Also does withdrawal basically mean mothball or would they sell then for next to nothing

Paul C
Guest

They will use the Bays and the carriers for the forseeable future. I think the LPDs will be sold or scrapped rather than mothballed. Ships kept in reserve deteriorate rapidly so still have to be maintained, which costs money. Probably not worth the effort and expense if they are unlikely to be recommissioned.

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

I would be surprised if the marines deploy in anything above Company level going forward, a single Commando at a stretch.

Albion and Bulwark sold on the cheap I should think…

They will probably deploy across the remaining assets.

Steve
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Steve

If I understood correctly the save the royal navy article, the money to upgrade the carrier’s to assault ships disappeared / was spent elsewhere, so they won’t be ideal for the role.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

With the horror stories around many would take that.

I don’t think the army would lose that many myself.

What the army lacks is artillery, UAV, counter UAV, radar, long range fires, and properly armed vehicles. A 5000 cut would not change much if the kit was procured.

Cutting capabilities from the RN, RM, and RAF is a different kettle of fish entirely, and must not happen.

John Clark
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John Clark

Absolutely Daniele, We’ve discussed it here many times, without serious extra investment, they simply cannot balance the books, maintain the equipment programme on track and operate things like fully capable Carrier Strike. The 13 remaining C130’s going would cause an issue, but with a looming wing centre box replacement needed not too far down the road, it’s easier to get rid and spin their way out of it. The only way I would find this acceptable is to buy another batch of A400’s to replace them. Surely a lighter, mobile and flexible force structure requires more airlift, not less….? Same… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Yep, I’d agree all that is possible. I Hercs were due to be chopped from 2010 but got reprieved in 2015. The issue there is UKSF use them. And they should have priority.

Getting rid of Puma hits UKSF too. We need a medium sized heli.

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

The wing centre box replacement puts the C130’s on the chopping block unfortunately, though it’s a well trodden path and we have Marshall’s here in the UK who are quite capable of doing the job. I don’t believe a box replacement has been done on a J model yet, I wonder what issues that might turn up and they have seen ‘very’ hard use in Iraqi and Afghanistan. I think we really need to replace them with a second batch of A400’s. It seems to me that the only suitable replacement for the Puma is a second batch of Merlin… Read more »

Daveyb
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Daveyb

The last 3 C130s we sold to USA (Blue Angles), Austria and Bangladesh all had a wing box repairs done by Marshalls before they were delivered.

Daveyb
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Daveyb

We tried replacing the Puma with the Merlin when it was first introduced, it didn’t work! The reason was that the Merlin is twice the size of a Puma and nearly has the same footprint as a Chinook. It was unable to land in compounds unlike the smaller Puma. The aircraft that should have replaced the Puma was the Blackhawk, Now the US Army are looking at replacing them with either the Defiant or the Valor. So I’m betting the RAF are waiting to see who wins, before making an announcement.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Hi Daniele. Puma OSD is a tough nut to crack, actually overall UK future medium vertical lift is. The govt. already highlighted (paraphrasing here) that they didn’t want to make a potential mistake committing to new conventional helicopter solutions just as the platform becomes obsolete in the face of new developments; a reference IMO to the US Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft like V-280 Valor or SB>1 Defiant and the desire to operate alongside the US. The problem is the gap between the current 2025 Puma OSD and when FLRAA delivers a product. Which seems to leave extending Puma OSD, gapping,… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Hi John. If the Tempest program is cut or severely curtailed then it would probably result in major losses in well paid high tech jobs (especially in the north), a severe impact to UK exports as the UK aviation industry contracts and essentially would mark the start of the UK’s exit from military aviation and particularly from essential IP generation. It would probably have major knock-on effects to related industries such as avionics and jet engines with even greater job losses. Unlike shipbuilding or military vehicle production, aviation is a current major UK high tech industry success and I can’t… Read more »

John Clark
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John Clark

Morning GHF, I totally agree with your absolutely sound reasoning. I would happily put you in charge! Unfortunately, without a second major player involved, who will commit to serious development funding and production orders, it will remain little more than a mock-up. I understand the the logic of rapid prototyping and production techniques, but as we all know it’s the incredible complexity of the software that causes the issues and Tempest will push this to a whole new level of ‘complex’. The investment needed to put Tempest into service is enormous, no getting round that one. Might we see the… Read more »

Cam
Guest
Cam

They’ve already been slashed to death almost.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

A similar article was published on 23 March 2017, it looks like it?

Steve
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Steve

I don’t think anyone can disagree with spending on cyber, but what i question is what exactly is the money being used for.

It feels like it is the ultimate smoke and mirrors, we are cutting x traditional asset to spend on cyber, without actually providing any details of what that means or if the money has actually been spent.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Spot on. SF is another. It cannot be quantified with the reductions.

Cam
Guest
Cam

What are those 3 grey quarter circle things across hangar roof? They’ve been taken off refited ships, but I’ve just always wondered.

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Radar absorbent material round the 910/911 guidance radars for Seawolf on the hangar roof. This is to stop reflections bouncing back to the radars when operating at low angles. You are right in saying these have been removed, along with the radars, on those ships converted to carry Sea Ceptor.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Cheers, I like learning new things on this website 👍

Nick C
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Nick C

I think it might have something to do with the Seawolf tracker radars, but I’m not sure. The updated ships have a different method of guidance for the new missiles.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Radar absorbent fences for reducing multi path effects when tracking low targets with seawolf
No longer required for ceptor as the little dome up there is all that is needed for the Ceptor data link.

BB85
Guest
BB85

Thanks for the responses I’ve always wonder that myself.
One other question I have on the T23 is the 3 seperate Islands for the bridge, funnel and hanger, was that deliberate based in lessons from the falklands to stop fire and smoke spreading to each section.

Cam
Guest
Cam

I believe that’s the case, three separate structures, lessons learned from the Falklands war.

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Mmm… not sure, as ‘lesson’ obviously ‘forgetten’ for T45 and T26. Fire breaks and citadels within citadels can be achieved without separate blocks, I’m sure

BB85
Guest
BB85

Yeah, I know there was a lot of design changes made to T23 following the war. Originally they where not even meant to have sea wolf so design changes to improve survivability where prob a bit rushed while T45 and T26 had decades to do it properly.

Paul C
Guest

I think the T23 as originally conceived did not even have a hangar. The idea was to use the facilities on the Fort 2 class, which of course are ships of the same era.

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Original T23 I believe had no gun or Harpoon, just Sea Wolf and a basic hangar just for first line maintenance and environmental protection. Scheduled maintenance was indeed to be conducted on the Forts, which originally had Sea Wolf as well.

Trevor
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Trevor

Type 23 was originally conceived as the minimum spec able to deploy towed array, and as you say very limited armament or facilities onboard. Falklands experience showed the need for frigates to be GP. Also they were designed for a short 18 year service life, so they have done pretty well and its not surprising that hull fatigue and corrosion issues needed addressing.

Paul C
Guest

They have given sterling service, although the same could also be said of the T42s which, along with the T21s, were also designed for a relatively short service life. I suppose 18-20 years was par for the course at the time given the rigours of North Atlantic deployment.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Are their any type 42 preserved for the nation? As a museum? For starters Hms Edinburgh would have been great in Edinburgh and would attract tourists….

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Basically None.

Paul C
Guest

HMS Edinburgh was the obvious choice for preservation but all have been scrapped. Not financially viable I guess, the UK does not seem to have a great track record re. preserved warships.

Paul C
Guest

Correct, not forgetting that 6 Forts were originally planned, which was reduced to 4 and then 2. Some things never change.

Herodotus
Guest

A Royal Navy ship with lots of weapons on it! My God, somebody stop the MOD, they are out of control!

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

The headline picture is out of date, there might not be so many Weapons on it now.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Always good to see another hull available to the RN instead of the Chilean Navy!

Cheers

Steve
Guest
Steve

Hopefully it hasn’t been upgraded ready to be sold.

stephen hoyle
Guest
stephen hoyle

As a Lancastrian, welcome back HMS Lancaster, and good luck to all who sail in her

Rob
Guest
Rob

Strengthening the backbone of the ship doesn’t sound good. Probably means bracing the keel with reinforced steel and if it needs that then that is kind of open heart surgery for a ship is it not?

Got to get those T26s & T31s in service as quickly as possible!

Paul C
Guest

Not surprising given their age and tempo of operations. The T42s and T21s also received hull strengthening as ships of that era were only built to last ~20 years.

David Barry
Guest
David Barry

Given life, and people dying… would it not have been better to carry the nomenclature ”Sovereigns ship” ? Gen question

Daveyb
Guest
Daveyb

No, as the piece states, she is personally sponsored by the Queen. Technically speaking they are all her ships, but that’s another story.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

The RAN is doing upgrades to ANZAC frigates that are in a similar bracket regarding life extension refits as T23s. It is being done for the same reasons until the RAN T26 comes into service, basically derisking T26 equipment. For the RAN the work its a bit more drastic . A completely new mast and extra cooling systems for the CEFAR2 radar system and upgrades to take Evolved Sea sparrow. A fair bit of ballast as well to counteract top weight from the new radar and mast. They are pretty good ships but the layout onboard is weird and they… Read more »

Daveyb
Guest
Daveyb

There has been a lot of reports in the Australian press that the addition of the CEAFAR mast has pushed the T26s (Hunter) design near to its limits for stabilization and increased its tonnage. The RAN have obviously come back with the statement that the additional weight/top weight is within the design parameters. It will be interesting to see how much heavier the Hunters are after production and how they perform compared to the “lighter” T26s?

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

If they can put a CEFAR2 mast on an ANZAC which is a lot smaller and lighter they can do it on a Hunter.
The issue will be getting the cooling water up the mast. More pumps and pipework = more stuff to break!

Darren hall
Guest
Darren hall

Welcome back, lets hope we have the crews to use them

Ian
Guest
Ian

Watched a video of Lancaster leaving port …..not the same amount of armerment now as on the picture with this article?