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March 2021 | Armada Engineering overhaul dry dock gate for Babcock International

Armada Engineering have recently completed a vital modernisation of a large surface ship dock at Devonport Royal Dockyard, despite the disruption caused by Covid-19. This will allow Babcock International to progress with a refit of one of the Royal Navy's largest ships. 

In late 2019, Armada Engineering were contracted by Babcock International to overhaul and replace the dock gate hauling gear of a dry dock at Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth. This is part of a complete refurbishment of this large surface ship dock which is being undertaken in order to fulfil a Royal Navy requirement to dry dock HMS Bulwark for a refit. HMS Bulwark is one of the royal Navy's two Albion-class amphibious assault ships and one of the largest ships in the fleet. 

Babcock International's Devonport Royal Dockyard facility is co-located with HM Navel Base Devonport to form the largest naval support site in Western Europe. This work by Armada Engineering commenced early in 2020 and despite the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions in Spring 2020, the work was completed in autumn 2020. Armada Engineering designed and installed a fully modernised hydraulic and electrical control system to the original drive mechanism. 

Joff Collins, MD of Armada Engineering says: "This has been a major overhaul and ensures that Babcock International were ready to welcome HMS Bulwark for its refit. We are exceptionally proud to help update such a crucial part of the marine infrastructure in the South West."

Engineering Director Mike Tonkin explains: "We overhauled the entrance Caisson Hauling Gear hydraulic drive system, greatly increasing its reliability and overcoming any obsolescence issues. This has included a complete renewal of all the hydraulic systems, electrical wiring, drive motor, control panels and connections. This has been done whilst retaining the existing lattice construction camber deck - a listed structure which is not being removed." 

Steve O'Mara, Head of Output - Amphibious and Fleet Time Warships at Babcock, said: "We were really proud to work alongside Armada Engineering for this important project and the team have really benefitted from the upgraded facility as a result. We docked HMS Bulwark within the facility during autumn 2020 as the project entered phase two of its optimised support period." 

Joff Collins adds: "It has been exciting to rejuvenate this dock gate and get it future-proofed, ready to meet the challenges of decades ahead. This is now a state of the art facility for Babcock to service the Royal Navy and one that we hope with attract significant future business to the South West." 

Check out this video of HMS Bulwark Docking. (Credited: Babcock International)