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17 March 2017
In early December 2016 after the successful Joint Expeditionary Force Maritime (JEF(M) deployment, HMS Bulwark’s first UK port to visit was Marchwood, Southampton to de-ammunition before starting the next stage of her life which is Extended Readiness.

De-ammunitioning was the first phase of HMS Bulwark entering Extended Readiness which she will stay in until her Upkeep in 2021.

On 14th December 2016 HMS Bulwark proceeded up the Hamoze under her own power for what was the last time for some years.

The Ships’ Company immediately proceeded on well deserved leave whilst Bulwark was able to become familiar with her surroundings in Devonport where she will stay at Readiness until she emerges from refit in 2023.

After an extended Christmas leave period the Ships’ Company returned to prepare Bulwark for Extended Readiness whilst conducting a handover of the Amphibious Flag Ship and R2 baton over to our sister HMS Albion.

The 401 personnel which made up HMS Bulwark’s Ships’ Company would throughout January 2017 move onto pastures new with the majority including 4ASRM transferring over to HMS Albion.

The remainder would proceed to new Ships or Establishments, onto promotion courses or stay with Bulwark. 

January 17 was a flurry of activity with much to do by all Departments so that Bulwark could safely enter Extended Readiness; of the 401 Ship’s Company 15 would stay and be joined by 12 Fleet Time Reserve Service personnel and 35 Babcock engineers.

Capt James Parkin RN departed and handed Command of Bulwark to Cdr Charles Maynard RN on 2 January 17 who after a short tenure as the Commanding Officer handed care and custody to the Senior Naval Officer Lt Cdr Chris Jones RN on 1 February 2017 who had been Bulwark’s Senior Engineer since July 2014.

Wisely the decision has been to keep Bulwark ‘warm’ and at readiness until her upkeep start date in August 2021. This posture allows the 62 person Ships’ Company to ‘flash up’ main engines and shafting every 6-8 weeks whilst also testing all other systems and equipment therefore keeping a heartbeat within Bulwark.

The Ships’ Company will work on board for the next 4 years ensuring Bulwark is fully maintained and available whilst forming an accurate and cost effective upkeep package.

Equipment and system upgrades are already being embodied and will continue to do so with an upgraded Combat System and Surveillance Target Indication Radar being fitted in 2017.

Keeping Bulwark warm also provides an opportunity for her to be used as a training ship and with this training potential endless, she has already been used for a variety of training needs for RN Phase 1 and 2 Engineers, Phase 1 Royal Marines and Royal Marine Officers, plus Babcock and MoD apprentices.

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