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Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset returns to sea following refit

HMS Somerset sails from Devonport on 25 March. (Royal Navy)

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset (F82) has returned to sea following the completion of a four-year life-extension (LIFEX) refit.

Somerset is one of 12 remaining Type 23 frigates (four general-purpose frigates and eight configured for anti-surface warfare) that entered service from the late 1980s, and is the eleventh ship in the class overall. The frigates, which originally had an intended lifespan of 18 years, are undergoing a major overhaul seeking to to extend their service lives until the RN's new Type 26 and 31 frigates start entering service later this decade and into the mid-2030s.

Somerset entered dry dock at the Frigate Support Centre in Devonport in 2018 to begin its programme of work, which included maintenance, updates, and structural improvements to the hull and living spaces.

Updates to the sensors and weapon systems have also been implemented, including replacement of the obsolete GWS 26 Mod 1 Sea Wolf air-defence system with MBDA's Sea Ceptor and refitting the ship with the Thales UAT Mod 2.3 radar-band electronic support measures system. The communications, navigation, and computer systems have also been upgraded.

In addition, the original Paxman diesel generators have been replaced by MTU 12V 4000 M53B sets under the Power Generation, Machinery control and surveillance Update (PGMU) project.

With the completion of its LIFEX refit, Somerset will be able to remain in service until the early 2030s.

Somerset and its crew will complete several weeks of trials and training off the south coast of the UK, after which the ship will rejoin the fleet for further training, followed by operational tasking.

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