HMAS Ballarat proceeded to a buoy in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, recently, signifying the completion of a busy and successful Anti-Ship Missile Defence Upgrade.
The sixth Anzac class frigate built for the Royal Australian Navy, Ballarat was the fifth vessel to proceed to Mariner Skills Evaluation and Sea Trials post upgrade, following HMA Ships Perth, Arunta, Anzac and Warramunga.
The upgrade project delivers not only an upgraded combat system and the Australian designed CEA phased array radar suite, but a comprehensive package of engineering changes and maintenance tasks including the ability to embark the MRH-90 helicopter.
The most significant visual change is the addition of the aft radar mast ‘cupola’ to house the phased array radar, and completing the new look a coat of the Royal Australian Navy’s new ‘haze grey’ paint scheme is applied to the upper deck structures.
Having verified propulsion plant safety and operability, the ship sailed to commence sea trials to test and validate the comprehensive package of work done.
Sailing represents the culmination of months of work by the Integrated Project Team and ship's staff to re-activate the vessel, which was de-crewed during the docking phase of the activity.
Commander Cassandra Ryan, Anzac Systems Program Office Sustainment Director, said milestone was a credit to both the crew and the project team.
“It is exciting to see the each ship depart the programme and return to service in the Navy equipped with such impressive capability," she said.
Significant co-ordination was required to bring the vessel back into service, including the de-confliction of ongoing production, set to work and testing activities while the ships staff re-inhabited and re-populated compartments and systems with everything from computers and office furniture to food to maintenance supplies.
The upgrade programme is managed by the Anzac Systems Program Office and involves industry partners including BAE Systems, NSM, Saab, and multiple sub-contractors.
“During the installation of the upgraded combat system, almost 30km of cable is installed, and the project has recently surpassed two million hours on task," Commander Ryan said.
“The project represents a significant upgrade to the capability, and is one of the major projects currently under delivery within the Royal Australian Navy fleet.”
Over half-way through the whole-of-class upgrade, HMA Ships Parramatta and Toowoomba are currently on the dry dock in the BAE yard at Henderson, Western Australia.
HMAS Stuart is the final ship to be upgraded and will enter the programme in May 2016.
Following sea trials, Ballarat will work up her ship's company to be ready for all future Navy tasking.