SHIP CLASS: Type 42 / Sheffield-class
SHIPS-IN-CLASS (16): HMS Sheffield (D80);
OPERATORS: United Kingdom (sunk)
PROPULSION: 4 x Rolls-Royce Olympus TM3B gas turbines of 50,000 horsepower for high-speed sailing and 4 x Rolls-Royce Tyne RM1C gas turbines of 5,340 horsepower for general cruising; 2 x Shafts.
Detailing the development and operational history of the HMS Sheffield (D80) Guided-Missile Frigate Warship.
Entry last updated on 4/6/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Type 42 guided-missile destroyer of the British Royal Navy (RN) was a prime late-Cold War era surface combatant that appeared in a sixteen-strong class. These succeeded the Type 82 that was adopted in 1973 and numbered just one of the eight planned vessels. The Type 42s were built in three batches and were taken into service beginning in 1975. The group soldiered on in a frontline role into 2013 by which point they were, themselves, succeeded by the Type 45 stealth frigates (numbering six and detailed elsewhere on this site).
HMS Sheffield Basics
HMS Sheffield(D80) was counted as one of the Type 42s built. She saw her keel laid down by Vickers Shipbuilding on January 15th, 1970 and was launched to sea on June 10th, 1971. She was formally commissioned under pennant number "D80" on February 16th, 1975 and set to fight under the motto of "Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit" ("With God's Help, Our Labour is Successful"). Sadly, during her building program, an explosion killed two dock workers and caused significant damage to the hull - delaying her entry into service some.
HMS Sheffield was the lead ship of the Type 42 class and also led Batch 1 of three (therefore the Type 42 class is sometimes referred to as the "Sheffield-class"). At least two ships of Batch 3 were built for the Argentine Navy (ARA Hercules D1 ARA Santisima D2) - a soon-to-be British enemy in the Falklands War (1982).
The warship carried the lines established by the Type 42 design standard: a turreted main gun was set over the forecastle with a twin-missile launcher positioned just aft of this and ahead of the bridge section. The bridge was integrated into the forward superstructure with various mastworks dotting its roofline. At midships was the combination enclosed smoke funnel and a secondary mast just aft. The peculiar design of the smoke funnel (with added deflectors) led to the name "Mickey Mouse Ears" being associated with their appearance. The aft superstructure was then positioned ahead of a stern-based helicopter flight deck complete with hangar facilities to support a single Westland "Lynx" medium-lift navy helicopter (or similar). This helicopter could further be armed with anti-ship / anti-submarine equipment and weaponry. A pair of boats were carried for special purposes. A crew of 287 were carried including a dedicated air wing.
Power was from a COmbined Gas-Or-Gas (COGOG) arrangement which saw 2 x Rolls-Royce "Olympus" TM3B high-speed gas turbines coupled with 2 x Rolls-Royce "Tyne" RM1C gas turbines offering 50,000 horsepower and 5,340 horsepower, respectively. The former was to be used for high-speed dashes and the latter reserved for general cruising. These drove power to 2 x Shafts. Top achievable speeds in ideal conditions could reach 30 knots and range was out to 4,200 nautical miles.
The primary purpose of her design was in airspace denial so this meant the warship carried an extensive set of radar and sensor equipment as well as sonar. The twin-missile launcher fit was the GWS-30 "Sea Dart" and twenty-two reloads were carried. More conventional weaponry included the 4.5" Mark 8 series gun set at the forecastle. 2 x Triple torpedo tubes offered the vessel a counter against enemy submarines at range.
The Falklands War of 1982
HMS Sheffield was critical in trialing the Sea Dart at-sea missile weapon and was used in this fashion until about 1980. On April 2nd, 1982, the military-run Argentine government sent in its forces to take the Falklands Islands from British hands to prompt the beginning of the Falklands War. The war ran over the period of two months, one week and resulted in a decisive British military victory - leading the Argentines to replace their military government with a democratically-elected one in 1983. Additionally, the two countries severed political ties until 1989.
The Falklands War was a tremendous British naval undertaking which saw forces amassed in Britain anf Gibraltar and set sail to Ascension in the mid-Atlantic. From there, the force moved into the South Atlantic and operated in and around the Falklands Islands region off the Argentine coast.
As resounding as the British victory was, it came at a price with 255 killed to the Argentine's 649. The British Royal Navy lost a pair of frigates as well as a pair of destroyers and three lesser ships. Twenty-four helicopters, ten combat warplanes, and a single bomber were part of the tallied losses before the end.
The End for HMS Sheffield
Nevertheless, the need was great and HMS Sheffield was pushed into action along with other RN warships. While she operated in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) picket role for the British Task Force on May 4th, 1982, she was struck by one of two Exocet anti-ship missiles launched by Argentine Air Navy Dassault "Super Etendard" fighter-bombers (detailed elsewhere on this site). The strike hit her amidships while the second fell harmlessly into the water near her port section. The damage resulted in loss of critical operating components and began to spread fire - this in addition to twenty of her crew killed. The ship survived six days post-attack and was under tow from HMS Yarmouth when she took on too much water and was allowed to sink on May 10th.
In an after-action review of the situation, there proved many failings on the part of the British for the attack and subsequent sinking of one of their warships. Issues ranged from lack of a complete Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) suite and operator/crew training to operator/officer-level responses and the failure of available technologies at play.