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28 Sep 07. Cumberland ready early. HMS Cumberland has today successfully completed her Ready for Sea Date (RFSD) inspections at Devonport two weeks ahead of the original schedule, and is ready to commence sea trials. This follows a highly successful second refit (RP2) for the Type 22 Broadsword class frigate, which has demonstrated the benefits of a number of lean initiatives and productivity improvements implemented by DML Devonport, now part of the Babcock International Group. The refit has seen the further roll-out of a continuous improvement programme and lean processes at Devonport which, working in partnership with the MoD and ship’s staff, have resulted in significant efficiencies and savings, and strong progress. One example of the benefits was seen in the acceleration of the 100% blast programme, which completed in just a third of the time previously taken, enabling structural surveys to be undertaken considerably earlier than planned, which in turn facilitated more accurate programme planning. In addition to the major structural survey, with full blasting and re-preservation of the hull, superstructure and external decks, Cumberland’s refit programme has included the fitting of new reverse osmosis plants for fresh water production, installation of 250 tonnes of lead ballast, modifications to facilitate the fitting of the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence (SSTD) system, upgrades to communication, fuel gauging, and pipework systems, the overhaul of over 1800 items of equipment, and upgrades to accommodation areas, as well as propulsion system and auxiliary machinery work.

01 Oct 07. RAMPing up success on HMS Trafalgar. Nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) HMS Trafalgar sailed from Devonport on Saturday (29 September) after a successfully completed 11 month Revalidation and Assisted Maintenance Period (RAMP), which has demonstrated considerable efficiency and cost savings as a result of DML’s pioneering RAMP improvement programme. Considerable efficiency and cost-saving benefits have been derived from new initiatives implemented by DML Devonport (now part of the Babcock International Group), working closely with the MoD and Royal Navy, under the RAMP improvement programme. Among areas addressed have been project planning and materials management processes, and implementation of a production control system, along with other best practice models drawn from the airline industry. The substantial HMS Trafalgar RAMP workscope, which involved some 230,000 manhours, included major work on combined coolers, CCSM installation, and life extension work which will take Trafalgar to the end of her life as an operational boat, with alterations and additions (A&As) representing a 30% growth in workscope. Work began in October last year, following a ‘Quick Start’ initiative (maximising opportunities for preparation or design or survey work when the submarine was alongside) which was put into practice to give a key lead into the work schedule, allowing more time to identify and absorb emergent work.

Sep 07. Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA): To Remain Largely Unchanged. Navy News (October 2007) reports that, following a two-year review, the RFA is to remain largely unchanged. The Navy Board has decided that the RFA, founded in 1905, should remain a separate Service and should ‘evolve’. Wherever possible, training for RFA sailors is to take place alongside their RN counterparts.
Comment: The RFA operates repair vessels, tankers, training ships and floating warehouses in support of the RN but has increasingly found its vessels in the ‘front line’. RFA Wave Ruler, for instance, is conducting anti-drug operations in the Caribbean while RFA Sir Bedivere is serving as mother ship for Iraqi Navy trainees. New ships for the RFA are to be provided though the MARS (Military Afloat Reach & Sustainability) programme, the first part of which is likely to be the acquisition of six fleet tankers. (Source: DNA DEF

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