OLD DEVONPORT . UK
www.olddevonport.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 30, 2016.
Webpage updated: May 01, 2017

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ROYAL DOCKYARD  |  NORTH YARD

FRIGATE COMPLEX

Following a decision in 1969 by the Admiralty Board to make Devonport Royal Dockyard the lead yard for the repair and refitting of "Leander" class frigates, and subsequently Type 21 and 22 frigates, Number 2 Basin and Numbers 5, 6 and 7 Docks were chosen for conversion into a new, covered, Frigate Complex.

Preliminary work was carried out between 1970 and 1972, when the entrance from Number 2 Basin to Number 3 Basin was closed.  Construction work began in January 1973, the main contractor being Messrs Kier Ltd.  The basin, docks and subways were designed by the Property Services Agency, a part of the Department for the Environment, while other buildings, and the cover for the docks, was the work of Messrs Sir Alexander Gibbs and Partners.  Moon Cove at the southern edge of the site, was reclaimed to improve access to the site.

Although the Basin was accidentally flooded on Thursday August 1st 1974, it was not officially flooded until Wednesday June 2nd 1976.  The first warship to use the Complex was HMS "Galatea" in March 1977.  Accompanied by the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, she also became the first ship to enter the Complex when it was officially opened by the Right Honourable Doctor David Owen MP, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on Friday September 23rd 1977.

Each of the three docks is 134 metres in length and have an effective width of 19.8 metres.  They are each taller than Nelson's Column in London.  They are entered through doors of four "leaves", which rise and fall from beneath the waterline.  On the outer Basin wall is a 50-tonne crane and three of 10 tonnes each are also provided.  The main pumps for emptying the Docks can work at 6,500 tonnes per hour.  4,500 tonnes of steel work were used in the Docks' Cover.