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Posted on Feb 6, 2005 in Stuff We Like

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Armchair General


Although, for obvious reasons, tourists are not allowed to enter the working areas of the Dockyard, regular harbour tours are provided. The number and type of Warships in dock at any one time cannot of course be guaranteed, but you are almost certain to see at least one Aircraft Carrier and several supporting vessels.

Here’s a flavour of the ships that were in port on the day I attended.

Firstly, this is HMS Westminster. A "Duke" Class, Type 23 Frigate, she was built in 1993. The "Duke" Class has limited stealth capabilities built into the hull to avoid detection and a vertical launch missile system hidden at the front behind the main gun.


This large vessel (A389) is the Royal Fleet Auxiliary RFA Wave Knight. She acts in the role of Tanker for the Royal Navy with a cargo capacity of 16,900 tonnes (fuel) and 915 tonnes (dry stores). In the background you can see HMS Victory in her dry-dock.



This is a "Sheffield" Class Type 42 Destroyer, HMS Southampton, D90. The "Sheffield" Class was designed to provide area defence for a Task Force.


Here’s another "Sheffield" Class, D95, albeit one from the third batch to be constructed. These later Type 42’s have "stretched" hulls to accommodate more interior equipment, with extra hull stiffening to counter the increased stresses. She is therefore some 7 metres longer than her companion in the previous image. This particular ship is HMS Manchester. Some years ago I had a personal one-on-one tour of this very vessel from a friend of mine who was a member of her crew.


This is a close-up of the "phalanx" close-in weapons system aboard HMS Manchester. Essentially a modern day computer-controlled Gatling Gun, the "Phalanx" is designed to engage and destroy incoming missiles.


Another Fleet Auxiliary, RFA Brambleleaf is an ex-merchant vessel deployed mainly on freighting duties. One of three such vessels available to the Navy, she is due to be decommissioned in 2009.


Here’s HMS Iron Duke, F234. Another "Duke" Class Frigate, she’s been refitted with a Mk 8 Mod 1 4.5-inch gun which you can see at the bow.


Yet another "Sheffield" Class Destroyer, D108, HMS Cardiff is in the process of being decommissioned.


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