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Westminster’s back with a bang as frigate hits the firing range

27 September 2018
Fresh from patrolling the North Atlantic, Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster has returned to the south coast with a bang.

As one of the Royal Navy’s high readiness ships she has spent a busy summer focused on her primary anti-submarine role.

But the ship’s company took the opportunity to lay down some lead with her 4.5-inch gun with some gunnery practice on the way back to her home port of Portsmouth.

The Type 23 frigate stopped off at the ranges in the Lulworth exercise areas – off the coast of Dorset – to use the versatile weapon, which is used against surface or land targets.

This was a fantastic chance for the ship to drill one of its main weapons.

Lieutenant Paul Kilbride RN

The ship’s Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Paul Kilbride, oversaw the efforts as the frigate flexed her muscles and fired off 27 rounds, including eight high explosive rounds.

He said: “This was a fantastic chance for the ship to drill one of its main weapons. The 4.5-inch gun is one of our primary weapons against a surface or land target and today proved our capability and skill in deploying this asset.

“With this being the Year of Engineering, this was an excellent opportunity for our engineers to practise one of their more exciting tasks.”

The weapon has been essential in recent conflicts, having been used to great effect in Libya in 2011, and through the Second Gulf War in 2003.

It is capable of firing two dozen rounds a minute and has a range of 18 miles. Shells leave the barrel at a staggering 1,700mph.

Lieutenant Commander Dave Howe, the ship’s Weapon Engineer Officer, said: “Today’s gunnery practice was a great demonstration of the whole ship working together.

“It was utterly reliant on my swept up and hardworking team, from those in the gun bay loading the gun, to the maintainers liaising with the principal warfare officers in the operations room.

“This has been a great training serial for us to remain current and ensure we can deliver the highest quality operational output.”

HMS Westminster, which underwent a major refit in 2017, is now alongside in Portsmouth ahead of further deployment in the near future.

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