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HMS Iron Duke (F234)

Guided-Missile Frigate Warship

United Kingdom | 1993

"HMS Iron Duke F234 continues in its role as guided missile frigate for the British Royal Navy."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for HMS Iron Duke (F234).
4 x Paxman Valenta 12CM diesel generators developing 2,205 shaft horsepower; 2 x GEC electric motors developing 4,000 shaft horsepower; 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey SM1C turbofan developing 31,100 shaft horsepower.
29.0 kts
33.4 mph
Surface Speed
7,499 nm
8,630 miles | 13,889 km
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of HMS Iron Duke (F234).
436.3 ft
132.98 meters
O/A Length
52.9 ft
16.12 meters
23.8 ft
7.25 meters
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of HMS Iron Duke (F234).
1 x 4.5" Mk 8 turreted deck gun.
1 x 32-cell "Sea Wolf" GWS 26 missiles in Vertical Launch System (VLS) for Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs).
2 x 30mm DS30B guns.
2 x 7.62mm miniguns
2 x Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers in quad-mountings (eight total missiles).
2 x 324mm "Sting Ray" torpedo tubes.
4 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs)
Air Arm
Available supported fixed-wing / rotary-wing aircraft featured in the design of HMS Iron Duke (F234).
1 x Medium-lift navalized helicopter (Westland Lynx or similar). Full-service hangar facilities to fit a single helicopter also provided.
Ships-in-Class (16)
Notable series variants as part of the HMS Iron Duke (F234) family line as relating to the Type 23 group.
HMS Norfolk (F230); HMS Marlborough (F233); HMS Argyll (F231); HMS Lancaster (F229); HMS Iron Duke (F234); HMS Monmouth (F235); HMS Montrose (F236); HMS Westminster (F237); HMS Northumberland (F238); HMS Richmond (F239); HMS Somerset (F82); HMS Grafton (F80); HMS Sutherland (F81); HMS Kent (F78); HMS Portland (F79); HMS St Albans (F83); CHILEAN NAVY: Almirante Cochrane (FF05); Almirante Condell (FF06); Almirante Lynch (FF07)
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/30/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

The Type 23 Guided-Missile Frigate (FFG) of the British Royal Navy (RN) was developed during the latter stages of the Cold War (1947-1991) which was, essentially, a nuclear stand-off and arms race between the East and the West (headed by the Soviet Union and the United States, respectively). The class comprised sixteen total warships with HMS Iron Duke (F234) counted among them. Iron Duke was ordered in July of 1988, built by Yarrow Shipbuilders (Marconi Marine of Scotstoun) with her keel laid down on December 12th, 1988, and was formally launched on March 2nd, 1991. The vessel's official commissioning into service followed on May 20th, 1993.

HMS Iron Duke maintains an active service standing in the modern Royal Navy fleet. All planned sixteen ships of the class were completed and entered service with HMS Norfolk (F230) becoming its lead ship. Three of the class (including Norfolk) were later sold-off to the Chilean Navy to serve all new tenures under local names. Decommissioning of HMS Iron Duke is planned for sometime in 2025. The class is set to be succeeded by the new, in-development Type 26 "Global Combat Ship" (GCS) from 2021 onward.

Type 23 frigates were used to succeed the Type 22 line, this class born in the 1960s and operating until the end of the 2000s (fourteen ships were ultimately completed). As effective as the Type 22 series was in their given Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) roles, they proved to be expensive warships to operate and maintain. The newer vessels were arranged to take their place in the ASW role focusing on deterring Soviet submarine incursions around the North Atlantic. They also benefitted greatly from Royal Navy experience (both successes and failures) in the Falklands War against Argentina in the South Pacific.

Beyond their given anti-submarine role, the class would be used in general combat roles and in support of peacekeeping and humanitarian actions around the globe. Today (2018) the class operates as a critical component of the RN's surface fleet, joined by their newer, more modern sisters in the Type 45 class stealth frigates (detailed elsewhere on this site).

As with other modern navy frigates, HMS Iron Duke is designed with a multi-mission approach which allows her to take part in different mission types as needed. This requires a broad set of advanced processing systems and sensors as well as a multi-role armament fit to meet the challenges ahead. This resulted in the warship being outfitted with various decoy systems, Electronic Warfare (EW) systems, and all-modern communications and radar suites.

Armament-wise, the ship carried 1 x 32-cell "Sea Wolf" GWS.26 series Vertical Launch System (VLS) firing the Sea Wolf surface-to-air missile system out to a range of 10 kilometers - giving excellent deterrence / counter of inbound aerial threats such as aircraft, helicopters, drones, and cruise missiles. 2 x Harpoon missile quad-launchers are carried to deal with surface threats at range. 2 x 324mm "Sting Ray" twin torpedo tubes are installed to counter the threat of undersea foes. More conventional armament is also carried: 1 x 4.5" Mk 8 turreted deck gun (over the forecastle), 2 x 30mm DS30M Mk 2 autocannons (or 2 x 30mm DS30B ACs in their place), 2 x 7.62mm Gatling-style miniguns, and 4 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs).

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Iron Duke's armament suite is not limited to weapons found on the ship itself for the vessel is fully-equipped to hand a single Westland Lynx (or similar) medium-lift navalized helicopter operating from the stern-based helipad. The attached hangar makes maintenance, repair, and resupply possible at-sea. With a helicopter laid up in the hangar, a second vehicle can be carried on the pad itself if need be.

These helicopter form a powerful air-arm detachment of the ship as they provide over-the-horizon spotting capabilities and are outfitted with search, tracking, and engagement systems all their own - primarily centered on the hunting and neutralization of enemy submarines and surface ships. As such, they are cleared to carried torpedoes and the "Sea Skua" anti-ship missile.

Structurally, Iron Duke displaces 4,900 tons. She has a bow-to-stern length of 436.3 feet, a beam (width) measuring 52.9 feet, and a draught down to 23.8 feet. Power is from a CODLAG ("COmbined Diesel-eLectric And Gas") arrangement which sees 2 x Paxman Valenta 12CM diesel generators installed alongside 2 x GEC electric motors outputting a combined 4,000 shaft horsepower. There are partnered with 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey SM1C units developing 31,100 shaft horsepower. All this drives a pair of shafts under-stern giving the ship a maximum speed of 28 knots and a range out to 7,500 nautical miles. In the arrangement, the electric sets are driven by the diesel generators for general cruising actions while the gas turbine comes into play (via a cross-connecting transmission unit) for dash actions - the result is a more fuel-efficient warship.

Aboard is a crew of about 185 though accommodations allow for as many as 205 to be carries and fully-supported for weeks at sea. Her profile certainly looks the part of a Cold War-era warship in that there are many protrusions, traps, and vertical facings about her design. Her masts are only partially enclosed but her smoke funnels are conjoined and of a low-profile appearance. Much of her superstructure is spread out just aft of the deck gun at the forecastle to the helipad at the stern. The bridge takes its usual place behind and above the 32-cell VLS unit at the forecastle. Many measures were instituted into the operation of the "Duke-class" such as sound, thermo- and electro-magnetic reduction - making them quieter than the preceding RN guided-missile frigates.

Iron Duke's first-actions were in response to the Sierra Leone Civil War in 2000 where Duke served as a deterrent offshore and supported actions inland. After this the vessel underwent a refit and was returned to active service in mid-2002 at which point she was stationed in Caribbean waters to tackle the active drug trade there. Joint-national exercises then followed off the coast of Scotland.

After more anti-drug actions, exercises, and crew training, Iron Duke went on patrol in the North Atlantic. Her first combat-centered commitment finally arrived in 2011 while supporting anti-government forces in Libya. Her weapons were used in anger for the first time in July. A major refit then followed in March of 2012 to help keep the warship viable for the new decade. One of the major upgrades was the addition of the BAe Systems "Artisan" 3D surveillance radar suite. She was back in action in June of 2013. After various stops, she partook in various joint-nation exercises.

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Global operator(s) of the HMS Iron Duke (F234). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.
National flag of the United Kingdom

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Image of the HMS Iron Duke (F234)
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.

Going Further...
HMS Iron Duke (F234) Guided-Missile Frigate Warship appears in the following collections:
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