HMS Cornwall (F99)
Guided-Missile Frigate Warship
HMS Cornwall F99 led a relatively short service in the Royal Navy, commissioned in 1988 and decommissioned in 2011.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Type 22 class of fighting frigate represented fourteen total vessels for the British Royal Navy (RN). The commitment proved one of the service's largest since the close of World War 2 (1939-1945) and provided the branch with capable surface combatants throughout their decades of service. The class went on to see extended service lives under the banners of Brazil, Chile, and Romania while the RN have all but given up on the series. Five of the original warships remain in service.
The class (designed to succeed the aging "Leander-class" ships) was produced across three distinct "batches" known simply as "Batch 1", "Batch 2", and "Batch 3" and intended for the fleet escort role. Batch 1 "Broadsword" covered four of the first ships-in-class and all were eventually sold off to the Brazilian Navy after their usefulness was expended in RN service. These were followed by six of the lengthened Batch 2 "Boxer" warships with Type 2031Z towed sonar array. Batch 3 "Cornwall" was the final group and constituted four warships of its own, relying largely on the finalized forms of the Boxer group though with internal improvements throughout to make them more refined fighting machines. Type 3 ships were ordered to replace losses incurred by the Royal Navy during its Falklands War campaign against Argentina in 1982.
Among their number was HMS Cornwall (F99) who appeared as the first "Batch 3" ship and was, rather fittingly, the last of the line to be decommissioned. Her sisters included HMS Cumberland, HMS Cambeltown, and HMS Chatham commissioned between 1988 and 1990.
HMS Cornwall was constructed by the specialists of Yarrow Shipbuilders and saw her keel laid down on December 14th, 1983. She was launched on October 14th, 1985 (Diana, Prince of Wales sponsoring) and was formally commissioned into service on April 23rd, 1988. For her time at sea, the warship homeported from HMNB Devonport in Plymouth, fighting under the motto of "Unus et Omnes" ("One and All"). She was known by her crews under the various nicknames of "Ice Cream Frigate" and "The Fighting 99".
As built, the vessel displaced 5,300 tons and held a running length of 485.10 feet with a beam measuring 48.6 feet, and a draught down to 21 feet.
Power was from 2 x Rolls-Royce "Spey" gas turbines coupled with 2 x Rolls-Royce "Tyne" gas turbines arranged in a COmbined Gas-And-Gas (COGAG) configuration in which the Spey turbines were used for high-speed dashing actions, the Tyne installations reserved for general cruising. All told, the warship could make headway (in ideal conditions) at up to 30 knots under stress. General cruising reached around 18 knots.
Aboard was a crew complement of 250 personnel though, in wartime, this could be increased to over 300. Sensors and systems included the Type 1007 navigational radar with the Type 967 and Type 968 surveillance radar suite. Twin Type 911 "Sea Wolf" radars operated in the tracking role while the active sonar array was the Type 2050 unit. The CACS-5 Combat Data System (CDS) was new to the Type 22 and found in the Cornwall's makeup from the start (succeeding the original Batch 1 and Batch 2 CACS-1 suite).
Armament was a mix of conventional- and missile-minded weaponry led by a single-barreled 4.5" (114mm) Mk.8 turreted deck gun at the forecastle (this weapon lacking in Batch 1 and Batch 2 ships). The heart of the armament suite were the twin "Sea Wolf" Anti-Aircraft (AA) missile launchers with 72 reloads and the twin 4-cell "Harpoon" Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) launchers with eight total shots available. Beyond this were 2 x Triple torpedo tubes to counter both surface and undersea threats and 2 x 20mm GAM-B01 guns were used for extreme close-in defense work. A single "Goalkeeper" Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) (new for the Type 22 group at the time) offered additional accurized fire against aerial targets.
Beyond basic armament, the Cornwall also actively operated a pair of Westland "Lynx" Mk.8 navy helicopters equipped for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and anti-ship roles. This included support of "Sting Ray" torpedoes and "Sea Skua" missiles as well as Mk.11 series depth charges and 2 x Machine Guns (for boarding actions/short-ranged suppression).
As an escort, the primary role of Cornwall was in airspace deterrence and in hunting enemy warships and submarines. As such, its armament fit was extremely broad, intended to counter as many threats as possible at variable ranges and altitudes/depths, be they in the air, on the water, or under it.
Upon entering service, HMS Cornwall was flagship of the 2nd Frigate Squadron based out of Devonport. After the disbandment of the squadron in 1993, the ship was sent on patrols and friendly port visits across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Baltic, Persian Gulf, and Far East theaters. In the mid-1990s, the vessel was named flagship of the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic. In 2001, she participated in the coalition invasion of Afghanistan following the events of 9/11. In 2011, the warship was part of a rescue operation of five Yemenis taken hostage by seventeen Somali pirates.
On June 30th, 2011, with her sailing days now over, HMS Cornwall was decommissioned and taken under tow to HMNB Portsmouth. In July of 2013, she and her three sisters were sold off for scrapping, brining about an end to this capable fighting ship of the British Royal Navy.