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It’s all Rover for Royal Navy minehunters’ trusty engine retired after 40 years

12 April 2023
After more than 40 years’ service the oldest engine in the Royal Navy has run for the last time.

With the return of HMS Brocklesby to Portsmouth after training and operations around the UK, it’s finally time to retire the last Rover Salvage Generator in the Fleet.

The Rover is one of the last vestiges of the original systems and kit installed when the ship was under construction at the (long-gone) Vosper Thornycroft yard in Southampton in 1981-82 – making the generator older than the majority of the ship’s crew.

Thanks to their glass fibre hulls in theory minehunters like Brocklesby can run for decades – as long as the equipment aboard is maintained/upgraded/replaced when necessary.

That days has come for both the generator and the ship which is now undergoing her first refit in seven years.

Located in a special purpose-built, weatherproof enclosure just behind the bridge, the generator provides back-up power to the command team to keep essential systems online in the event of an emergency.

Should other generators and electrical systems fail, crew ‘crank up’ the Rover to guarantee power to key functions: steering, radar, degaussing, control and monitoring.

A similar, newer, more efficient motor, the Cat C4.4 from Finning, will replace it; Brocklesby will also undergo enhancements to embark autonomous and remote/offboard minehunting systems as the Hunt class modernise and lead the way with technological innovation.

For the past six months – as part of the rotation of minehunting crews – Crew 1 from Portsmouth’s 2nd Mine Counter-Measures Squadron – looked after the 40-year-old warship.

As well as conducting tricky inshore survey work – made challenging by shallow waters and endless shipping – Crew 1 have flown the flag for the Royal Navy around the UK coast, embarking friends, families and Sea Cadets in ports around the UK to show the good work being carried out. Brocklesby has also trained personnel deploying on operations abroad and influenced future mine warfare generations with instruction closer to home.

The ship’s last act before heading home for Portsmouth was taking part alongside NATO allies and other RN ships and assets on Exercise Joint Warrior.

That concluded in Campbeltown in Scotland, from where the order was given to fire up the Rover one last time and set the main engines ‘Pompey Revs’ (full speed for home).

Performing the honours was Petty Officer (Mine Warfare) Hayden ‘Jimmy’ Green who has served in Hunts (and before them Ton-class vessels) for 32 years. Recently selected for promotion to chief petty officer, Jimmy is bound for pastures new and will leave the Crew – and the Hunt class.

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