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Posted on Jul 16, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

International Festival of the Sea 2005

Armchair General


At 23 years old, HMS Nottingham (D91) is now one of the oldest ships in the Royal Navy and also one of the most infamous. Having just undergone a multi-million pound refit, HMS Nottingham grounded herself off Australia in 2002 and has only recently returned to service after another £26,000.000.00 was spent on her in terms of repairs. Rather amusingly however, hurriedly scrawled signs pointed the way to Nottingham’s birth, proudly announcing that she was the ship which had hit a rock! Well, of course after an introduction like that, I couldn’t resist taking a look onboard.


Since HMS Nottingham is a working warship, signs on the entrance inform anyone boarding who is, and who is not aboard, Officers and Rating included. HMS Nottingham is a Sheffield Class Destroyer (aka the Type 42) – one of the second batch to be built in 1982. Later ships from Batch 3 had "stretched" hulls to accommodate additional equipment.


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On the rear helicopter deck, an array of equipment was displayed for viewing, including these torpedoes and a life raft. Sheffield Class Destroyers were designed to provide area defence of a Task Force, but these older vessels are now being phased out, with HMS Nottingham herself due to be paid off in 2012.

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In addition to the above, weapons were also laid out – for handling, and helpful members of the crew were on hand to demonstrate and explain their features and use.

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But look at this – the Helicopter hanger contained a shop. A SHOP!! I could not resist, and bought myself a baseball cap with the name of the ship emblazoned upon it. The next picture was taken from the bow and shows the main 4.5inch gun.

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Here’s a view inside the turret – which is fully automated, and one of the Sea Dart missile system. Having had a personal tour of one of the later Type 42s some years ago (HMS Manchester – D95) it’s interesting to see that ammunition for both systems is fed automatically from below deck. Note the hatches below each Sea Dart missile – they feed reloads up into the launcher when it adopts a vertical position.

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And those were just the highlights of my day. It’s not every day you get to see ships from every corner of the globe. If future Festivals are anything like this one, any Naval buffs out there should make every effort to attend.

To view the complete set of images from my visit, go to the ACG image gallery here.

A J Summersgill

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1 Comment

  1. The uniforms were all made by Keith Levett, livery tailor of Savile Row, who is standing the other side of Captain Hardy, and portraying Captain Thomas Troubridge, and beyond he, and also in your second photo, Captain James de Saumarez!
    Wonderful to see those photos.
    Yours aye,
    Alex Naylor (aka Nelson!) Keith also made the Full Dress uniform which is now on board HMS Victory and also the undress one in the Nelson Museum in Monmouth. They are precise replicas of the originals.