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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 09:00 GMT
Crippled warship to be refloated
HMS Nottingham
There were doubts over the ship's future
HMS Nottingham, damaged on rocks off Australia, is being disconnected from the deck of the ship that carried her halfway around the world.

The warship was carried into Portsmouth harbour for 26m of repairs on the heavy lifting ship, MV Swan.

The type-42 destroyer hit rocks and holed her hull at Lord Howe Island in July and was unable to make her way back to UK waters under her own power.

HMS Nottingham
The repairs will take 18 months
Engineers are now spending two days separating the destroyer from the deck of the Swan where it was welded into place for its journey from Sydney.

The Nottingham will then be taken out into the deeper water of the Solent so the deck of the Swan can be submerged and its "passenger" refloated.

Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach has said repair work at the Portsmouth naval base could take up to 18 months.

The Ministry of Defence only confirmed this week that the contract to mend the vessel had been agreed.

There had been question marks over the warship's future after the accident, which nearly sank her and caused extensive damage.

HMS Nottingham had undergone an extensive refit programme in 1999 at a cost of 55m, which extended her operational life to 2012.

A full repair was therefore considered the most cost effective solution by the Ministry of Defence.

The destroyer HMS Glasgow has been "reactivated" to cover for Nottingham while the repairs take place.

Ship costs
Built 1978-1980 - 115m
Refit 1999-2000 - 55m
Repairs 2002 - 26m

A full board of inquiry into the circumstances of the running aground at Lord Howe Island, 200 miles off the coast of Australia, has yet to report its findings.

The warship's captain Commander Richard Farrington has yet to find out whether or not he faces a court martial over the incident.

The ship tore a 160ft gash in her hull on a submerged but well-charted rock in the Tasman Sea on 7 July this year.

A total of 253 crew were on a routine trip from Cairns, in Queensland, to Wellington, in New Zealand, when water flooded five compartments of the ship.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"Repairs could go on for a year and half"

Click here to go to Southampton

A 10-hour salvage operation sees the damaged British warship HMS Nottingham lifted on board a recovery ship at Australia's Sydney HarbourShipping moves
Images of warship salvage operation
See also:

22 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
19 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
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