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HMS Kent's all shipshape for her ultimate training test

7 February 2023
Ready for the Royal Navy’s ultimate trainers and assessors are the crew of HMS Kent who’ve begun 2023 getting their frigate shipshape.

The Portsmouth-based warship has been in action extensively over the past two years, from supporting the UK Carrier Strike Group deployment to the Indo-Pacific in 2021 to extensive operations in home waters in 2022.

All of which takes its toll on both the hull and the machinery within.

With Kent due to undertake Operational Sea Training next month – several weeks of instruction/assessment off Plymouth which determines whether a Royal Navy (or NATO) warship is ready for the rigours of a front-line deployment.

Over 2,000 hours of work have been put in to get Kent into the best shape within and without. 

Divers spent more than 100 hours in cold, dark, less-than-pleasant waters to survey the hull, check the ship’s sensors below the waterline, check for marine growth – which might limit the frigate’s top speed (in excess of 28 knots/32mph) or simply demand more fuel to sustain lower speeds – and keep the hull fully protected from salt-water corrosion which is a constant, and ever demanding, battle for members of the ship’s company. 

Meanwhile in the engine rooms, all four of the ship’s diesel motors – among the most used pieces of equipment aboard – were stripped down and enjoyed a complete overhaul courtesy of the engineering technicians.

It has been a thoroughly productive engineering support period which puts the ship in the best position to deliver on forthcoming operations.

Commander Jez Brettell

At least two are running at any one time at sea, with all four Paxman Valenta 12CM engines clocking up a total of 3,600 hours in 2022 – that’s like running your car non-stop for five months!

One of the larger jobs completed during the engineering support period was to provide a little TLC to one of KENT’s main electric motors, capable of producing approximately 4,000 Horse Power.

Experts from the motor’s manufacturer visited the ship to carry out a ‘commutator skim’ to allow the motor to run effectively and much more efficiently, saving a good amount of fuel. Once the skim had been completed, complete with a final polish, the motor was tested with flying colours and won’t need another skim for a couple of years.

“It has been a thoroughly productive engineering support period which puts the ship in the best position to deliver on forthcoming operations,” said Commander Jez Brettell, Kent’s Commanding Officer.

And if you’re wondering what the warfare department was doing while the engineers toiled… they were honing their anti-submarine warfare skills (the ship’s raison d’etre) with combined virtual training.

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