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County class Guided Missile Destroyer – 1962

The first experimental marine gas turbine went to sea in 1947 and the world's firstwarship to rely entirely on gas turbine propulsive power was HMS Grey Goose, which was commissioned in 1953. Impressive though the engine was, it was large and very complex. It was realised that what was needed was a ship propulsion arrangement using a simple cycle solution which had good space and weight characteristics and reasonable lower ship speed efficiency. This could be achieved either by running sided engines or using cruise diesels. Gas turbines were used as boost engines along side steam propulsion plant in two classes of vessel introduced into service during that period. Tribal Class Frigates and County Class destroyers. Both used Metropolitan Vickers G6 engines. In those early days, marine engineers and naval architects were convinced that it would be quite impractical to use lightweight, relatively flimsy aircraft derivative engines.

As early as the 1950s the Royal Navy pioneered the electronic synthesis of tracks from sensor data and the digital transmission of plots to other units. These systems went to sea in the carriers Victorious and Hermes and the County class guided missile destroyers and were the inspiration of all current computerised action information systems. Much of the so called "Revolution in Military Affairs", the essence of which is the digitisation of the battlefield, the ability of modern sensors and communications to collect information and transmit it in digital form to enhance greatly the situational awareness those upon the battlefield, down to the lowest level necessary. The essence of this is the use of the term "battlefield" that implies operations ashore. To a considerable extent, the maritime battlefield, with its multi-dimensional threat axes and potentially catastrophic high speed threats, has been digitised form some time.

There were numerous small differences between each of the ships and the above photographs illustrate just a few of them. Naturally the Batch 1 destroyers (Devonshire, Hampshire, London and Kent), differed from the Batch 2 (Antrim, Fife, Glamorgan and Norfolk), and there were also other differences such as the postions of the ships boats, how many each ship carried, the position of the liferafts, the differences between the Seacat directors and so on.

HMS "Norfolk" was accepted from the shipbuilder on 7th March, 1970, which is 28 months after her launch on 16th November, 1967. She was delayed by a number of factors, including labour disputes. Completion of HMS "Antrim" has been delayed due to a boiler explosion, labour disputes and142W the effects of re-organisation on the ship-building company. She was expected to complete in July, 1970, 33 months after she was launched on 19th October, 1967.

HMS Glamorgan, hull number D19, was a County-class destroyer, part of the British Task Force employed during the Falklands War. On the first of May 1982, she was unsuccessfully attacked by four Argentine Mirage fighter aircraft using 500 pound bombs, a method that was later successfully employed against the frigates HMS Ardent and HMS Antelope. On the evening of 25 May, after the attack on the MV Atlantic Conveyor, Glamorgan participated in retaliatory strikes against the city Stanley. She participated in several additional strikes against Stanley in the following days.

During the afternoon of 30 May Glamorgan came under attack by Exocet missiles, but escaped unscathed. She remained in the area supporting British warfighting efforts, and on the 12th of June, she again came under attack by Exocet missiles. The attack was carried out by a shore-based Exocet battery. The incoming missile was not detected by shipboard warning systems. However, seconds before impact, the Exocet exhaust plume was detected visually by the Officer of the Watch. The missile impacted the aft end of ship, blowing a hole in the deck outside the hangar, destroying the ships aircraft and the port Seacat anti-air missile launcher.

As in other cases, the missile’s warhead did not detonate. However, the fires it caused spread throughout the hangar and galley, which was situated below the area of impact. The ship’s magazine and other nearby compartments were flooded, but the ship did not sink. She was temporarily repaired on site and steamed to port under her own power in late June. She continued in service until 1998. Of 471 embarked sailors, thirteen were killed as a result of the attack.

HMS Kent, a County class destroyer, was commissioned on 15 August 1963 and was last refitted in the early 1980s prior to the Dockyard privatisation. The original cost was £16 million. The Eleventh HMS Kent, 1963-1997 was laid down in Belfast by Harland and Wolff in 1960 and Commissioned in 1963. She was a County Class destroyer and one of her more unusual roles was that of host ship to the 'Withdrawl from Empire' negotiations in Gibraltar. She was present at the Jubilee Review at Spithead in 1977 and her Cold War career ended in 1984 when became a Harbour Training Ship for the Sea Cadet Corps. In 1998 she was towed to India to be broken up.

In general, the cost (and size) constrained British ship designs of the mid-1960's, the Type 42 destroyer and the Type 21 frigate, were the only classes of combatants lost by the Royal Navy in the Falklands. On the other hand, both newer (Type 22 frigate) and older (county class destroyers) design ships absorbed substantial punishment and were able to survive. While other factors cannot be discounted in this comparison, it is safe to conclude that had the Type 42's and Type 21's been designed and constructed with survivability, rather than cost, as a primary consideration, at least one of the four ships lost might not have been lost.

Ironically, the loss the Eastern wing of Pakistan in 1971 simplified much of the strategic planning for the navy, which could now concentrate its efforts in the west. In the following decade, the navy kept on striving for improving its condition and explored diverse sources for procurement of equipment. In 1982, Pakistan Navy bought a County class guided missile destroyer from Britain, which provided the much-needed platform for maintaining the training capability.

Foure Ex-Royal Navy County class destroyers served in Chile's Navy with the Sea Slug SAM facility replaced by a helicopter deck. Four ex-British County-class destroyers were delivered between 1984 and 1987. These ships underwent extensive refit by Chilean shipyards prior to commissioning into the Chilean navy. Seaslug launchers were removed in order to extend the helicopter deck so that these vessels could accommodate AS-332 Super Puma helicopters.

HMS Antrim

Ship List
# Name Builder Laid
Launch Comm Decomm Notes
Batch 1
D 02 HMS Devonshire ... ... ... 19621978 Disposed
D 06 HMS Hampshire ... ... ... 1963 1976 scrapped
D 16 HMS London ... ... ... 1963 1982 sold to Pakistan
D 12 HMS Kent ... ... ... 19631984 Alongside training ship
Batch 2
D 20 HMS Fife ... ... ... 1966Jun 1987 sold to Chile, CNS Blanco Encalada
D 19 HMS Glamorgan ... ... ... 1966 Oct 1986 sold to Chile, CNS Almirante Latorre
D 18 HMS Antrim ... ... ... 1970 Jun 1984 sold to Chile, CNS Cochrane
D 21 HMS Norfolk ... ... ... 1970Apr 1982 sold to Chile, CNS Prat
Displacement 6,800 tons full load
Dimensions 158.9 x 16.4 x 6.3 meters (521.5 x 54 x 20.5 feet)
  • 2 shafts, COSAG;
  • Geared steam turbines,
  • 2 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 30,000 shp;
  • 4 Rolls Royce Olympus G6 gas turbines, 30,000 shp;
  • Speed30 knots
    Guns 2 - 4.5"/45 Mk.6 DP twin mounts [batch 1] or
    1 - 4.5"/45 Mk.6 DP twin mounts [batch 1] or
    ('B' mount removed for Exocet)
    2 - 20mm single mounts
    Missiles 1 twin Seaslug launcher for Seaslug Mk.2 missiles (last 4 ships)
    4 MM-38 Exocet (NORFOLK, ANTRIM, FIFE, and GLAMORGAN after 1974)
    1 twin Seaslug launcher for Seaslug Mk.1 missiles (Mk.2 in last 4 ships)
    2 quad Seacat GWS21 launchers (GWS22 in later ship)
    Radar Type 992Q/993 surface/low-level air search
    Type 965 AKE-1 or -2 air search
    Type 277/278 air search
    Fire Control Type 901 Seaslug tracker Type 903/904 tracker for MRS3 (Medium Range System No.3)
    Type 901 Seaslug tracker
    Sonar Type 170, Type 174/177 medium range seach (replaced by Type 184)
    AviationHelicopter deck and hangar for 1 Westland Wessex, with homing torpedoes and dipping sonar.
    Crew 471

    Page last modified: 18-08-2016 15:46:49 Zulu