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.
Summer leave and weapons training are on the schedule now ahead of six weeks of Fleet Operational Sea Training to prove that the crew, as well as the ship and her systems, are ready to go on global operations.
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.”
The crew used their latest spell at sea to practice drills and scenarios including their response to attack by multiple small craft, simulated by patrol boats HMS Exploit and Ranger, tackling a fire in the galley, and gunnery with close-in weapons and the main 4.5in gun.
Launched in 1990 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1992, she will remain based in Portsmouth for the fourth decade of her service.
Her refit was carried out at HMNB Devonport and she returned to Portsmouth in December.