UKHMS Bulwark leaves dry dock in £30m refit

The Roy­al Navy amphibi­ous land­ing ship HMS Bul­wark has been float­ed out of dry dock after 127 days as part of a £30m refit at Devon­port Roy­al Dock­yard in Ply­mouth.

 HMS Bulwark towers over the dry dock at Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth
HMS Bul­wark tow­ers over the dry dock at Devon­port Roy­al Dock­yard in Ply­mouth
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

At the end of the refit pro­gramme the ship will be more advanced for heli­copter fly­ing and have improved accommodation. 

Bab­cock, the prime con­trac­tor, and the ship’s com­pa­ny achieved the impor­tant refit mile­stone with a delay of just a sin­gle day caused by the near gale force winds that pre­vent­ed the 20,000-tonne ship’s safe pas­sage through the nar­row gap of the dock. 

A sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment for the amphibi­ous task group to which the ship belongs is con­ver­sion of HMS Bul­wark to full tac­ti­cal night-vision capa­bil­i­ty by her land­ing craft and air­craft and the capac­i­ty of the flight deck to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly oper­ate two heavy-lift Chi­nook helicopters. 

So far, the hull and pro­peller shaft work have also been com­plet­ed to sched­ule and fresh­ly paint­ed in tech­ni­cal­ly-advanced anti-foul­ing paint. 

The fin­ish­ing touch­es will now be added to the exten­sive accom­mo­da­tion enhance­ments for the 380 sailors and marines to move them­selves and all the ship’s equip­ment back onboard in late October. 

This is the first major refit of the ship and has includ­ed addi­tion­al improve­ments to the machin­ery and mag­a­zine spaces, the ship’s high volt­age propul­sion sys­tem, advanced com­mu­ni­ca­tion sen­sors, IT net­work capa­bil­i­ty and defen­sive weapon upgrades. 

Com­man­der Nick Mac­Don­ald-Robin­son, HMS Bulwark’s Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, said: 

“The undock­ing demon­strates the suc­cess of the sig­nif­i­cant work under­tak­en so far by my ship’s com­pa­ny and the con­trac­tors here in Devon­port, of which I am jus­ti­fi­ably proud. 

“There is, how­ev­er, still a con­sid­er­able amount of work to be done to attain a suc­cess­ful move onboard of my ship’s com­pa­ny and to allow the ship to progress toward sea trials. 

“The close work­ing rela­tion­ship we have estab­lished with Bab­cock this past year will undoubt­ed­ly prove to be suc­cess­ful and allow us to achieve each mile­stone to sched­ule over the next months.” 

HMS Bul­wark is the Roy­al Navy’s newest com­man­do assault and com­mand and con­trol ship. 

Launched in Novem­ber 2001 she has a ship’s com­pa­ny of 380, a quar­ter of whom are made up from mem­bers of 4 Assault Squadron Roy­al Marines. 

The ship can car­ry up to 200 Roy­al Marines in ded­i­cat­ed accom­mo­da­tion for long peri­ods and anoth­er 500 troops for short periods. 

Her flight deck can accom­mo­date two Chi­nook or two Mer­lin heli­copters. A large flood­able dock holds four large land­ing craft — with anoth­er four car­ried on davits on the ship’s sides. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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