Charting the Seas with HMS Enterprise [Gallery]
HMS Enterprise, at sea.
The Royal Navy’s hydrographic survey ship HMS Enterprise docked in Limassol, Cyprus in
mid-December 2017 before our trip across the Mediterranean to Valletta, Malta.
Viewed from the bridge wing, this is the Enterprise’s lifeboat, which is lowered into the
water using a crane. You can also see the gangway that is used to enter the ship. The picture was taken while
still berthed in Limassol; behind us is a fishing trawler, a tug, and, ironically, the German frigate Hessen.
The Enterprise’s bridge as seen from the bow. One of her Oerlikon 20mm/85 KAA autocannons
can be seen on the right, installed on a GAM-BO1 mounting. The bubbles above the bridge contain satellite
communications equipment and the magnetic compass. The GPS receivers and the radars are also visible on the mast.
A close up of one of the Oerlikon autocannons.
Captain Phil Harper and “Nav 2” Kyle O’Regan on the bridge of the Enterprise. Phil and
Kyle were my two primary contacts in Enterprise. Phil initiated my visit, and Kyle was my roommate and guide for
The bridge at work. Sailing Enterprise is a team effort with lots of verbal commands and
The main control panel for driving Enterprise. The closest lever in the middle is the bow
thruster. Ahead of this are the two levers that control the direction and power of each Azipod. Between them are
the thrust levers that are used when the steering wheel (far left) is used. At the rear of the picture is the
dynamic positioning system, with its data entry panels and joystick controller.
The large compass on the center pedestal on the bridge. This usually shows geographic
directions based on the inertial measurement unit, or alternatively magnetic directions based on the ship’s
compass above the bridge. The compass can be tilted to make precise fixes of targets for navigational purposes
despite the ship’s roll.
The console of the integrated platform management system (IPMS) in the machinery control
room. Similar to a FMS in an airplane, the engineers can bring up screens that display the status of multiple
subsystems, such as power generation, power distribution, fuel or ballast. The screens also allow control of the
respective systems, at least for routine functions.
An Azipod viewed from inside the Azipod compartment. The dark blue ring is the top of the
turret that supports rotation of the Azipod; the blue motor on the left is one of the two motors that drive the
rotation; the top of the other one can be seen next to the red fire extinguisher.
The Enterprise’s stern when in dry dock in 2018, looking aft. The two Azipods are clearly
visible; the propellers are at the front as they “pull”. Picture (c) HMS Enterprise.
HMS Enterprise, Royal Navy
A view onto the quarterdeck. The pi-shaped structure is the A-frame, tilted completely
forward. The large red balloons are fenders, they are put between the ship and the harbor wall (or another ship)
when docked. To the left of the left A-frame vertical strut is one of the Mk 44 miniguns.
Deployment of the side-scan sonar. The sonar is the rocket-shaped body attached to the
winch. The wire is routed over the A-frame, so pulling in the rope lifts the sonar. Moments later the A-frame
would be tilted aft in order to move the sonar over open water so that it could be lowered into the sea.
Spitfire, Enterprise’s little daughter, which also has a multi-beam sonar and is used for
mapping in shallow water such as ports.
The sea-boat coming back after the MOBEX exercise. The crane is ready to lift the boat up
the side of the Enterprise.
The rescue swimmer in his drysuit just after jumping into the water. The red safety line
is clearly visible. The guy on deck indicates the direction of the casualty.
A view from the bridge onto the Enterprise’s “vertrep” deck. This is intended for vertical
replenishment, in which helicopters lower cargo onto the ship; Enterprise does not have its own helicopter and the
deck is not intended to allow helicopters to land. The picture was taken on the last day when we were sailing into
Valletta’s harbor. It was quite windy that day, as can be seen from the waves.
More illustration of the weather on our final day. To the left of St Elmo’s lighthouse is
the open sea, to the right of it is Valletta’s Grand Harbor. The sea is noticeably calmer inside the harbor. The
small boat bobbing in the waves is the pilot boat, which would approach the Enterprise once she reached the
quieter water inside the harbor.
Enterprise’s First Lieutenant standing on the bridge wing observing the Pilot’s approach.
Just as when working with the sea-boat, a flag is used to indicate the Enterprise’s readiness for the Pilot boat
to approach. The red flag means they are not yet ready.
Sailing down the Grand Harbor. The historic, sand-colored buildings of Valletta provide an
As we sail down the main basin, accompanied by the tug we never used, we pass HMS Echo,
Enterprise’s sister ship. She arrived a little earlier and would also stay in Malta over the Christmas period.
More views of Valletta. Another compass is visible on the bridge wing. This is to allow
the fixing of landmarks that are not visible from the center pedestal’s compass.
Enterprise will turn on the spot through 180 degrees in the basin just ahead of us in
order to dock at the aft right side of the basin, right next to the yellow crane.
The WECDIS screen during the final couple of hundred meters approach into Palumbo dockyard
in Valletta. The picture illustrates nicely how tight it was during the 180-degree turn. The black shape is the
ship’s actual position, while the blue shape illustrates the planned turn around the bow using the dynamic
positioning system. The Enterprise would move forward a couple of meters very soon to increase the clearance at
This is basically what we saw when looking right 90 degrees at the time the previous
picture was taken. We were passing by a mobile oil rig, still accompanied by the tug.
The Enterprise after berthing in Valletta. It was a sad moment for me to leave the ship
after a very interesting week.