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Type 82 / Bristol class Guided Missile Destroyer - 1973

A Type 82 Destroyer of 7000 tons, and the seventh ship to bear the name, Bristol was laid down as the first of her class, designed to escort the replacement fixed-wing carriers (CVAS) planned in the 60's. She was the only one built after the carriers were cancelled and plans for the remaining ships in the class were cancelled - the class was reduced from 4 to 1. But the first of the class was well advanced, and approval was given to complete this one ship.

Even this ship was only built because there was a need to get Ikara and Seadart to sea earlier than would have been possible had it been decided to wait for the replacement class (the Type 42 which abandoned Ikara in favour of a Lynx helicopter). Officially listed as a "Destroyer" this is presumably as the result of her Seadart area defence capability and despite the lack of a helicopter hanger.

Commissioned in 1973, in her time, Bristol was considered a versatile with three modern weapons systems backed by a sophisticated Action Data Automation system involving four types of radar and two sonar. The 6,000 ton warship had 600 crew, was 507 ft long and could travel at 30 knots. In her day she was Britain's most powerful missile ship. She was armed with Sea Dart missiles, a 4.5 inch gun, Ikara anti-submarine torpedoes and an anti-submarine mortar.

HMS Bristol was the last RN ship built to be steam powered. She suffered a major fire in the boilers shortly into her active life but managed to complete the weapons trials on her gas turbines.

She was packed with state of the art technology, one of the first to have her interior designed by fashion consultants, and to have her own television studio and cameras. She also had the capacity to act as a Flagship and Command and Control platform for a Task Group commander with an extensive communications suite. It was in this role as Flagship that she relieved HMS Hermes in the later stages of the Falklands Conflict in 1982. In 1987 Bristol became flagship to the Dartmouth Training Squadron where she offered sea training for officer cadets.

Stripped of most equipment, Bristol has served as a training ship alongside at Whale Island in Portsmouth since 1991 She was finally withdrawn from service in 1991 and configured for her current role in 1993. HMS Bristol is the only static ship in the Royal Navy with 483 berths which makes her the ideal vessel to host training and provide additional accommodation for Royal Navy personnel when required. Hosting up to 17,000 visitors annually for 50 weeks a year, she is a well-used facility providing the closest thing to a sea-going experience without leaving port. She is used for a range of training roles including combat intruder training, teaching users to move around heavy machinery in the confines of her engine room. Medical trainees and chaplains gain 'sea experience' on board and Royal Navy divers practice diving beneath the hull in the waters around her.

HMS Bristol is the latest in a succession of warships to be employed as the Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserve, National Cadet Forces (NCF) and Youth Organisations Harbour Training and Accommodation Ship. Permanently berthed at Whale Island, the Ship remains in commission, has an RN Commanding Officer and is administered as a Department of HMS Excellent. With a small complement of serving and civilian personnel, Bristol operates for 50 weeks of the year providing a range of training and accommodation for a variety of personnel.

Currently one third of her compartments are used for accommodation, providing 460 berths for the fourteen thousand young people who pass through her every year. For many the ship is their first experience of the RN, and provides a lasting impression, one that will shape the lives of some. Exchange programmes using Bristol have included cadets from Canada, Bermuda, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Malta, the Falklands, South Africa, and the USA.

The Military Training School uses Bristol for combat intruder training, slingers learn how to move around heavy machinery in the confines of her engine room. HMS Sultan and Dryad use her for health and safety courses, in addition Medical trainees, Divers and Chaplains gain from training in on and around HMS Bristol.

The 2010 ship Life extension Programme upgraded facilities and improved safety onboard to enable her to continue inher important role for at least another ten years. She was formally decommissioned in 2020 and likely to be scrapped soon. HMS Bristols White Ensign was lowered for the last time at a decommissioning ceremony in Portsmouth 28 October 2020, ending an era which began in March 1973.

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Page last modified: 24-09-2021 18:07:04 ZULU