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Work begins on first NSM fit on Type 23

The MK 141 launcher structure being removed from HMS Somerset in preparation for the installation of NSM. (HMS Somerset/Royal Navy)

The Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset is in line to become the first UK Royal Navy (RN) ship to receive the Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

Replacing the ageing Harpoon Block 1C surface-to-surface guided weapon, which will be retired from service in December this year, NSM is being procured as part of the RN's Maritime Offensive Surface Strike programme. In November 2022, the UK Ministry of Defence confirmed plans to pursue the accelerated acquisition of NSM under a government-to-government sales agreement with Norway.

A total of 11 RN ships – a mix of Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers – will receive NSM, with an initial three vessels being fitted ‘at pace'. The objective is to ensure that a capability is in place by the time Harpoon leaves service at the end of 2023.

Preparations for the NSM fit onboard Somerset were revealed in a 30 January social media post from the ship, which noted, “Work begins to upgrade our anti-surface warfare capability with our new Naval Strike Missile.” Accompanying photographs showed the MK 141 missile launching system associated with Harpoon, together with the deck-mounted efflux deflectors, being craned off while the ship was alongside at Devonport Naval Base.

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