It’s nearly five years since visitors to the now well established biennial and internationally renowned DSEi Exhibition had the privilege to explore above and below decks on HMS Iron Duke who was moored in the Royal Victoria Dock alongside London’s ExCeL Exhibition Centre where the show was taking place.
The British Navy’s Type 23 Frigate F234 was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders and launched on 2nd March 1991. Steeped in naval history as the third of its name – the original was a Dreadnaught Class Battleship and British Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s Flagship in the 1916 Battle of Rutland – the ship is extensively fitted with McGeoch Weatherdeck and Gangway Lighting and electrical systems which, like the vessel itself, have clearly stood the test of time. Of course, in 30 years, some of the internal components – lamp holders, glass lenses, etc – will have been replaced but the original castings bearing the name ‘McGEOCH’ remain firm and strong and continue to illuminate a safe path for sailors on the ship’s main decks and gangways. Their long, almost trouble-free service life is testament to the availability of ‘off-the-shelf’ spares from the company.
Another strong link to McGeoch was Iron Duke’s escort of the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth during her first days of sea trials on 28th June 2017. McGeoch supplied over 12,000 lighting units for the new ship together with 300 control & instrumental panels and a further 300 electrical distribution panels.
A few days before her escort duties, Iron Duke was exhibited at the National Armed Forces Day in Liverpool which ran from 24th to 25th June and where the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, visited the ship. Iron Duke was also open to the public.
HMS Iron Duke is 190m long and 9m at its widest point. She carries a number of weapons and sensors which make her a multi- purpose combat vessel. Like all Type 23’s, her original design role was anti-submarine warfare, but she can be employed in a variety of other tasks. She carries a Lynx Helicopter which can be used for anti-submarine and anti- surface roles as well as for humanitarian and search and rescue purposes.
Back in 2014, Iron Duke was the First of Class fit for the Royal Navy’s new Type 997 Artisan 3D, successfully firing her missile system using the new radar combined with the updated ‘SWMLU’ Seawolf missile targeting system in the English Channel. After serving as a training ship in Portsmouth from mid-2017, she was towed to Devonport, Portsmouth, in January 2019 for a major ‘LIFEX’ refit which would add Sea Ceptor, Artisan radar and new diesel generator sets.
Above left: An aerial view of HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Iron Duke (centre) and HMS Sutherland (right).. The aircraft carrier is shown conducting vital system tests off the coast of Scotland. HMS Queen Elizabeth left Rosyth, where she has been under construction since 2014, to conduct sea trials. Type 23 frigates Sutherland and Iron Duke joined the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, along with Merlin MK2 helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm, to guard the seas as the trials got under way. Crown copyright 2017.
Above right: McGeoch Weatherdeck and Gangway Lighting continue to illuminate a safe path for sailors on the main decks and gangways of HMS Iron Duke.