The UK Royal Navy minehunters ''HMS Quorn'' and ''HMS Atherstone'' have been transferred into the new Minor War Vessels Centre of Specialisation at Portsmouth Naval Base ahead of their major upgrades by BAE Systems.

This marks the first time two Royal Navy Mine Countermeasure Vessels (MCMVs) have simultaneously occupied the hall for maintenance.

BAE Systems will replace the entire propulsion system, including the machinery controls and surveillance system. The ships’ galleys will also benefit from upgrades and refurbishment.

Barry Woolley, projects and operational performance director at BAE Systems, said: “It’s an exciting time to be involved in the upgrade of the Royal Navy’s minehunters and great to see the Royal Navy making best use of its undercover facilities for the Hunt Class. It’s an important step for the Naval Base providing more certainty in supporting the Royal Navy on operations worldwide.”

“These ships are crucial to the mine counter measures capability of the Royal Navy. Under the terms of the MSDF contract, we will continue to ensure these vital ships are available for the Royal Navy to use for years to come.”

At the end of November HMS Brocklesby was also successfully loaded out of the complex after completing the first stage of its extensive upkeep programme. BAE Systems will complete the remainder of its maintenance period at the docking facilities at Portsmouth Naval Base before the vessel undertakes sea trials in 2017.

Captain Roger Readwin Royal Navy, Captain Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels, Fishery Protection and Diving, said: “The load out of HMS Brocklesby is a significant milestone in her journey to return to duty. While there is still significant work ahead to complete, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all those who are working so hard to deliver HMS Brocklesby on time. The future operational success of HMS Brocklesby is being shaped with this most important refit, which will ensure she will be ready to fight and win into the 21st century.”

Using the ship hall’s facilities enables BAE Systems’ engineers to benefit from the innovative mobile working technology and equipment available in the facility. The team also used a jack-up barge for the first time to co-ordinate the activity in and out of the ship hall, significantly reducing the time and cost involved in moving the vessels.

The work is part of the Maritime Services Delivery Framework (MSDF) contract, awarded to BAE Systems in 2014, to support half of the Royal Navy's surface fleet on UK and global operations as well as the management of Portsmouth Naval Base.

In total, BAE Systems staff will spend around 190,000 hours carrying out a total of 9,000 maintenance tasks, big and small, on each of the three 600-tonne ships. These range from overhauling the chilled water plant to fitting new propellers.

By Anne-Marie Causer