British naval supremacy has been on display for centuries and its prowess on the high seas continues today through the modern incarnation of the Royal Navy (RN). The service relies on a bevy of ship types including aircraft carriers, amphibious support models, destroyers, frigates, and submarines. Among the inventory resides the Type 23, a late Cold War-era model developed with a focus on airspace deterrence, land-attack, and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). The class - also known as the "Duke" class due to the ship names representing various British Dukes - are the primary guided-missile frigate solution for the RN.
The Type 23 class was enlisted to succeed the aging Cold War-era Type 22 frigates in same role, beginning commissioned service at the end of the Cold War in 1987. All sixteen planned warships were eventually completed, including three for the Chilean Navy. Only one of the group has since been retired with the class expected to be succeeded itself in service by the Type 26 "Global Combat Ship" - the older Type 23 group now intended to serve into 2035.
One of the Type 23 ships and the focus of this article, HMS Richmond (F239), was ordered in December of 1989 with her keel laid down in February of 1992. She was formally commissioned on June 22nd, 1995, beginning her official service with the RN, and remains active today (2021). Her fighting motto is "A Deo et Rege" ("From God and the King")
As built, the warship followed the class standard, having an overall length of 436.3 feet, a beam of 52.9 feet, and a draught of 23.10 feet. Displacement reached 5,400 tons (short).
Power is through a conventional CODLAG (Combined Diesel-eLectric-And-Gas) encompassing 4 x MTU 12V4000 M53 diesel generators of 2,210 horsepower rating with 2 x GEC electric motors delivering up to 4,000 horsepower. This provides the ship a maximum speed of 28 knots and range out to 7,500 nautical miles.
Armament is made up of a mix of ballistic and missile weapons: there is a 4.5" Mk.8 turreted naval gun over the forecastle with 2 x 30mm DS30M Mk.2 guns and 2 x Miniguns. 4 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) are fitted for extreme close-in work. 1 x 32-cell GWS 35 series Vertical Launching System (VLS) is embedded into the hull and supports the "Sea Ceptor" Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) weapon series (this replacing the original "Sea Wolf" model). 2 x 4-cell Harpoon missile launchers counter surface naval threats and 2 x 324mm twin-tubed torpedo launchers can be used against both surface threats and undersea dangers.
To satisfy the ASW role, the ship can carry up to two Westland "Lynx Wildcat" HMA.2 ASW helicopter (or similar) equipped with torpedoes and sonar. A helipad/flight deck and full-service enclosed hangar is integrated into the ship's design at the stern.
To date (2021), actions involving Richmond has covered various exercises including NATO-sponsored ones. She took part in British actions related to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 by way of offshore attacks and then served in a humanitarian role at Turks and Caicos following Hurricane Francis. Anti-piracy actions then followed with the EU Naval Force in Middle East and Asia-Pacific waters. During 2015 and the mass migration from warn-torn Syria, she served as part of the anti-smuggling force in Mediterranean waters.
From 2017 until 2019, she underwent an extensive refit (LIFEX) to keep her viable for years to come - this included installation of MTU M35B diesel units, a first for any ship of the class.
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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; Almirante Condell; Almirante Lynch Ships-in-Class
Offshore bombardment / attack of surface targets / areas primarily through onboard ballistic weaponry.
Offshore strike of surface targets primarily through onboard missile / rocket weaponry.
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Airspace Denial / Deterrence
Neutralization or deterrence of airborne elements through onboard ballistic of missile weaponry.
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
Onboard systems alert and protect the vessel from airborne, low-flying airborne threats through ballistic and / or missile weaponry.
An Over-the-Horizon operational capability is granted to the vessel, typically through launched fixed-wing / rotary-wing aircraft.
The vessel supports the launching of missiles against airborne, waterborne, or land-based targets at range; typical of modern designs.
Ability to launch torpedoes against ocean-going targets.
436.3 feet (132.98 meters) Length
52.9 feet (16.12 meters) Beam
23.1 feet (7.04 meters) Draught
5,400 tons Displacement
CODLAG (COmbined Diesel-eLectric-And-Gas): 4 x MTU 12V4000 M53 marine diesel units developing 2,210 horsepower each; 2 x GEC electric motors delivering 4,000 horsepower each. Propulsion
1 x 4.5" BAe Mk.8 turreted naval gun over forecastle.
1 x 32-cell GWS 35 series Vertical Launching System (VLS) supporting the Sea Captor Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) family.
2 x 4-cell Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers.
2 x 30mm DS30M Mk.2 guns.
2 x 324mm Twin-tubed torpedo launchers supporting the "Sting Ray" torpedo family.
2 x 7.62mm miniguns.
4 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs).
1 OR 2 x Westland Lynx Wildcat HMA.2 OR Westland Merlin HM.2 navalized sub-hunting helicopter supported from the stern helipad/hangar deck area.
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