Leander Class General Purpose Frigate (Type 12 Improved)

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The 1951 frigate programme resulted in four types of specialised frigate: anti submarine (Type 12), anti-aircraft (Type 41), aircraft direction (Type 61) and utility (Type 16). However there was a clear requirement for a class of general purpose frigate. A standardised design would not only be cheaper to construct and operate but the multi-rôle capability would make operational deployments easier. This requirement was partly fulfilled by the Tribal Class, although these vessels had insufficient armament and speed to act in an escort role and were consequently employed mainly in the Far East and at foreign stations. Plans to build further Tribal class frigates were abandoned in favour of modifying the Type 12 design.

Design work on updating the Type 12 design began in 1958. Whilst the hull and machinery of the Whitby Class and Rothesay Class Type 12 frigates remained largely unchanged, the superstructure was redesigned as a single block and incorporated a helicopter hanger. Internally air conditioned, the modified vessels would have better living and working conditions than their predecessors and would be more resistant to nuclear and chemical warfare. For example, they were built without portholes. With a standard displacement of 2,450 tons they would measure 37ft in length, 41ft in beam and 18ft in draught. Powered by two Babcock and Wilcox boilers they were designed for a speed of 30kts and a complement of 251. The armament was tailored to suit their general purpose role. They would carry 4.5 inch Mk6 twin mounting while for close range air defence they were designed to carry a Seacat launcher on the hanger roof. Anti submarine defence would consist of a single Mk10 three barrelled Limbo Anti Submarine mortar mounted aft of the flight deck, and the Westland Wasp Helicopter. Design features from the County Class Destroyers were also incorporated including a bridge that provided better visibility and hydraulic power systems to drive the Seacat lifts and various winches. This feature also reduced the manpower needed on deck to operate the Leander Class. The Leander Class design was noted for strong performance in poor weather and heavy seas. This was made possible through twin rudders, twin propellers and non-retractable fin stabilisers.

In 1960 the Admiralty announced that three Rothesay class vessels would be completed to a Leander design and subsequently Weymouth, Fowey and Hastings, were converted whilst under construction and completed as Leander, Ajax and Dido, respectively. A fifth unit of the Salisbury Class, originally laid down as Coventry, was completed as fourth Leander, Penelope. Orders for Aurora, Euryalus and Galatea were placed in 1961 followed by a further three - Arethusa, Naiad and Cleopatra - the following year. Six additional units ordered between autumn 1962 and early 1963 formed a slightly modified second batch, of which the main difference was an improved engine room design with new machinery (Y-136 as opposed to Y-100). The design was revised again resulting in a third batch of ten ships, ordered between 1965 and 1968. These vessels had improved propulsion (Y-160) but more importantly were 43ft in beam, which improved stability and increased internal space. They were correspondingly referred to as ‘Broad Beam Leanders’.

The final Leander Class Frigate, Ariadne, entered service in 1971. The class, now consisting of 26 vessels, was the largest class of major warship built for the Royal Navy since the end of the Second World War. The building programme had lasted thirteen years and provided work for over a dozen shipbuilders. The construction programme was also the last to incorporate Royal Dockyards: HMS Andromeda was the last warship built at Portsmouth Dockyard and HMS Scylla the last built at Devonport Dockyard. The Leander Class bore names of mythological characters from Greek and Roman mythology, last used for Second World War era cruisers, thereby emphasising the frigate’s increasingly important role in the modern Navy. The design was successfully exported overseas. Four vessels were built in UK yards: two for New Zealand and two for Chile, while eleven were built in foreign yards: two for Australia, three for India and six for the Netherlands.

The scale of the building programme and the period it spanned, meant that by the time the last vessel entered service the design was largely outdated, lacking new guided missiles and long range anti submarine equipment. The first seven vessels hadn’t even been completed with Seacat. In order to avoid obsolescence these vessels required the latest equipment and technology. As the first Leander Class vessels approached mid life refits, the 1968 Defence White Paper announced that these vessels would be equipped with the Australian Ikara Anti Submarine system. For this to occur the 4.5 inch gun was removed and replaced with the necessary Ikara equipment. Various electronic equipment, sensors and radar’s were also removed or replaced. These changes resulted in what was effectively an Anti-Submarine specialised frigate. The Ikara conversions were undertaken in two groups: 1A and 1B, so that lessons learnt from the first 1A conversions could be incorporated into the 1B vessels. Most of the conversions took place at Devonport Dockyard although the workload saw Arethusa converted at Portsmouth and Aurora at Chatham. In total eight batch one vessels were converted.

Ikara Conversions
Group... Ship Undertaken by Commenced Completed
1A Leander Devonport June 1970 December 1972
1A Ajax Devonport October 1970 September 1973
1A Galatea Devonport October 1971 September 1974...
1B Naiad Devonport January 1973 July 1975
1B Euryalus Devonport May 1973 March 1976
1B Aurora Chatham December 1974... March 1976
1B Arethusa... Portsmouth October 1973 April 1977
1B Dido Devonport July 1975 October 1978

The Batch 2 vessels were similarly redesigned, but not for Ikara. The decline of the Aircraft Carrier and large calibre guns diminished the Navy’s ability to counter the growing Russian surface fleet. To remedy the situation a 1970 statement on defence policy called for the surface fleet’s offensive strike capability to be upgraded. It was therefore decided to fit the Batch 2 Leander Class frigates with the French Exocet surface to surface missile. The 4.5 inch gun was removed and in its place four exocet launchers were added. The limbo mortar was also removed so the flight deck could be extended to accommodate the new Lynx helicopter, which required the hanger to be enlarged slightly. The Lynx was faster than the Wasp and could carry the Sea Skua air to surface missile. 360° air defence was provided by two quadruple Sea Cat launchers: one mounted on the hanger, the other on the forecastle. Two Mk9 Bofor guns were added to the superstructure while 6 torpedo tubes were added to replaced the limbo, three either side of the hanger. The Exocet conversions also took place in two distinct groups: 2A and 2B. Finally, the 1981 Defence Review saw Juno converted into a navigation trials ship, replacing Torquay. Her weapons and radars were removed and accommodation, classrooms and workshops added.

Exocet Conversions
Group Ship Undertaken by Commenced Completed
2A Cleopatra Devonport July 1973 November 1975
2A Phoebe Devonport August 1974 April 1977
2A Sirius Devonport March 1975 October 1977
2A Minerva Chatham December 1975 March 1979
2B Argonaut Devonport February 1976 March 1980
2B Danae Devonport August 1977 September 1980
2B Penelope Devonport January 1978 March 1981

Those responsible for planning the Batch 3 upgrade looked to the new Broadsword Class Type 22 Frigates under construction. They carried both the Seawolf missile system and the Type 2016 sonar. The Batch 3 Leanders had been built with a larger beam and were therefore more accommodating to modernisation. The limbo mortar, Seacat, 4.5 inch gun and all radars were removed. In their place a sextuplet Seawolf missile launcher and four exocet missile launchers were added. As with the previous conversions, most took place at Devonport where the new Frigate Refit Complex (completed 1977 and spanning Number 5,6 and 7 docks - the largest covered dock in Europe) enabled all weather work. However during the Falklands Conflict it meant work on Scylla came to a halt as all attention and effort at Devonport was switched to converting requisitioned merchant vessels. Originally all ten Batch 3 vessels were to undergo this upgrade but the 1981 Defence review cancelled the last five conversions on the grounds of costs. Although this gave the unconverted vessels the advantage of being able to provide naval gunfire support (NGFS), which had proven especially useful in the Falklands, they lacked the modern sophisticated equipment and capabilities of both the converted vessels and the Broadsword Class Type 22 Frigates. As a result they were largely assigned to training duties and early disposal.

Seawolf Conversion
Ship Undertaken by Commenced Completed
Andromeda Devonport March 1978 December 1980
Charybdis Devonport June 1979 August 1982
Jupiter Devonport January 1980 June 1983
Hermione Devonport January 1980 October 1983
Scylla Devonport November 1980 December 1984

Unsurprisingly the twenty six Leander Class Frigates made up the backbone of the Royal Navy in the 1970s and 1980s and had long and full careers, participating in numerous operations, exercises and deployments. They frequently represented the UK contribution to various NATO commitments including Standing Naval force Atlantic and Naval On Call Force Mediterranean (NAVOCFORMED) and hence were an important part of Britain Cold War defence. They also served as guardships at Gibraltar, the West Indies, the Far East and other locations ‘flying the flag’ and providing a credible deterrent.

Several Leander Class Frigates also participated in the Beira Patrol. This was undertaken between 1965 and 1975 and was part of the economic sanctions imposed following Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence. The patrol was designed to prevent oil from South Africa reaching Rhodesia through Beira and other Portuguese ports in Mozambique. The Leander Class also played an active role in the so called ‘Cod Wars’, where they acted as Fishery Protection Vessels and attempted to protect British trawlers. During these operations numerous skirmishes, collisions and rammings occurred with Icelandic Gunboats. Leander Class vessels also undertook the Armilla Patrol on various occasions, and during the height of the Iran-Iraq war the five Seawolf Leanders made frequent visits to the Persian Gulf region on order to protect British shipping passing through the Straits of Hormuz.

Towards the beginning of the 1980s some of the earlier vessels were beginning to show their age, as was their Ikara missile system. John Nott’s notorious 1981 Defence Review placed an increased emphasis on submarines rather than the surface fleet. Hence the Seawolf Conversion of the last five Broad beam Leanders was cancelled whilst as part of a general scale down of the surface fleet some of the older units would be retired early. Bacchante, Naiad, Dido and Achilles were all earmarked to enter the Standby Squadron. However the outbreak of the 1982 Falklands conflict put pay to some of these plans. The Fleet’s hasty deployment to the South Atlantic left several gaps in the Navy’s ability to operational commitments. Consequently, whilst four Leander Class vessels participated in the 1982 Falklands war- Andromeda, Minerva, Argonaut and Penelope- most of the class covered the increased commitments with NATO or in home waters, including some of those ships destined for reserve the previous year.

After fighting in the South Atlantic had ended the five unconverted Broad beam Leanders undertook several Falklands Patrols. For this they were armed with extra 20mm guns and had their pennant numbers painted out. Their future was secured in the 1984 Defence Review which, in the wake of the Falklands, reversed the previous decision to dispose of them early. However, in 1983 Bacchante and Dido became the first Leanders to leave Royal Navy service, having been sold to New Zealand to replace the two ageing Rothesay Class Type 12 Frigates Otago and Taranaki.

During the 1980s a further conversion was carried out on Phoebe, Argonaut, Cleopatra and Sirius. This saw the addition of the Type 2031 towed array sonar which had proved extremely successful during trials on HMS Lowestoft. Batch 1 Leander Arethusa also had this fitted and at the same time her Ikara was replaced by exocet.

By the late 1980s the age of the Leander Class was resulting in mechanical and technical problems, which required constant maintenance to keep the ships fully operational. The Leander Class required excessive manpower to operate compared to the new Duke Class Frigates entering service, and this was at a time when the navy was suffering a manpower shortage. Several Leanders also fell victim to the ‘peace dividend’ that occurred as the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended. This was highlighted by Tom King’s ‘Options for Change’ Defence Review, which continued the downsizing of the surface fleet.

Most vessels were sold for breaking up or used to test new weapon systems, although some were sold for further service with other navies. The unmodified Batch 3 vessels were particularly attractive to foreign customers- without the sophisticated equipment of their converted sisters, they were less obsolete, less expensive and could be converted more easily for future use. Consequently Diomede and Apollo were sold to Pakistan while Achilles and Ariadne were transferred to Chile. In contrast the remaining Batch One Leanders were more difficult to sell, as their Australian Ikara missile system could only be sold to Commonwealth Nations. Hence most were sunk as targets or broken up.

Two vessels, Aurora and Euryalus, were bought by Devonport Management Ltd (DML) who hoped to refit and resell them to a foreign navy or failing that, use them as a source of spare parts and equipment for other Leanders. However the enterprise proved to be unsuccessful and both vessels were sold for scrap. Increasing health and safety legislation, low scrap metal prices and increasing competition from Asia has seen the decline of shipbreaking in Great Britain. Nevertheless Euryalus and Aurora were broken up at Millom, near Barrow. Other Leanders sold for breaking up were scrapped abroad, mostly in India.

The last Leander Class vessel in Royal Navy service, Scylla, paid off in 1992 and joined the last of her sisterships laid up in Fareham Creek, Portsmouth. Upon the sinking of Sirius in 1998 Scylla has become the last remaining Leander afloat in British waters.

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Class Details

Ship Pennant Deck Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned
Batch One
Leander F109 LE Harland & Wolff April 10th 1959 June 6th 1961 March 26th 1963
Ajax F114 AJ Cammell Laird October 12th 1959 August 16th 1962 December 10th 1963
Dido F104 DO Yarrow December 2nd 1959 December 22nd 1961 September 18th 1963
Penelope F127 PN Vickers Armstrong March 14th 1961 August 17th 1962 October 31st 1963
Aurora F10 Au John Brown June 1st 1961 November 28th 1962 April 9th 1964
Euryalus F15 EU Scotts November 11th 1961 June 6th 1963 September 16th 1964
Galatea F18 GA Swan Hunter December 29th 1961 May 23rd 1963 April 25th 1964
Arethusa F38 AR J.Samuel White September 7th 1962 November 5th 1963 November 24th 1965
Naiad F39 NA Yarrow October 30th 1962 November 4th 1963 March 15th 1965
Cleopatra F28 CP HMD Devonport June 19th 1963 March 25th 1964 January 4th 1966
Batch Two
Phoebe F42 PB Vickers Armstrong July 25th 1963 December 19th 1964 May 15th 1966
Minerva F45 MV Alex Stephens June 3rd 1963 July 8th 1964 April 15th 1966
Sirius F40 SS HMD Portsmouth August 9th 1963 September 22nd 1964 June 15th 1966
Juno F52 JO J. Thornycroft July 16th 1964 November 24th 1965 July 18th 1966
Argonaut F56 At Hawthorne Leslie November 27th 1964 February 8th 1966 August 17th 1967
Danae F47 DN HMD Dockyard December 16th 1964 October 31st 1965 September 7th 1967
Batch Three or Broad Beam Leanders
Hermione F58 HM Alex Stephens December 6th 1965 April 26th 1967 July 11th 1969
Andromeda F57 AM HMD Portsmouth May 25th 1966 May 24th 1967 December 2nd 1968
Jupiter F60 JP Yarrow October 3rd 1966 September 4th 1967 August 9th 1969
Bacchante F69 BC Vickers October 27th 1966 February 29th 1968 October 17th 1969
Charybdis F75 CY Harland & Wolff January 27th 1967 February 28th 1968 June 6th 1969
Scylla F71 SC HMD Devonport May 17th 1967 August 8th 1968 February 12th 1970
Achilles F12 AC Yarrow December 1st 1967 November 21st 1968 July 9th 1970
Diomede F16 DM Yarrow January 30th 1968 April 15th 1969 April 2nd 1971
Apollo F70 AP Yarrow May 1st 1969 October 15th 1970 May 28th 1972
Ariadne F72 AE Yarrow November 1st 1969 September 10th 1971 February 10th 1973

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HMS Scylla (F71) © Crown Copyright.

Above: HMS Scylla (F71) armed with Exocet and Seawolf missiles. She is currently the last remaining Leander afloat in British waters..© Crown Copyright.

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Ship History
Leander Leander was originally ordered as the Rothesay Class frigate Weymouth but was completed as the first Leander Class vessel. As a result her internal layout differed slightly from later Leander Class Frigates. In December 1975 Leander and Galatea undertook a ‘Cod War’ Fishery Protection Patrol and on January 6th she collided with the Icelandic Gunboat Thor. On her return to the UK she lost power in a storm off Scotland. Later that year Leander undertook a second Cod War Patrol and on May 22nd was rammed by the Gunboat Ver. In 1982 Leander and sistership Euryalus were diverted from NATO Exercise Northern Wedding to aid the Fish Factory Ship, Ave Maria. The two ships rescued 45 people from the Portuguese vessel, ablaze off Essex coast. On September 1st 1986 Leander and sistership Galatea paid off into the Portsmouth Standby Squadron, where they were at 30 days notice. Her Ikara missile system (which Australia forbid from being sold to non-Commonwealth nations) prevented a possible sail to Chile. Instead, in early September 1989 Leander left Portsmouth under tow from RMAS Rollicker and RMAS Powerful. Later that month she was employed as a target in exercise NATO Sharp Spear, during which she was struck by a Sea Dart and three exocet missiles before being sunk by a 1,000lb bomb.
Ajax Nicknamed ‘the White Tornado’. Ajax was originally ordered and laid down as the Rothesay Class frigate Fowey but was completed as a unit of the Leander Class. As a result her internal layout differed slightly from later Leander Class Frigates. In October 1974 Ajax and the Rothesay Class frigate Rhyl rescued 250 British citizens from Cyprus in the wake of the Turkish invasion. It was announced in 1984 that Ajax would pay off the following year. One of her final tasks was to escort the Royal Yacht Britannia on a tour of Italy by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Ajax paid off at Devonport on May 31st 1985. After a sale to Thailand failed to materialise Ajax took over from Salisbury Class Frigate Salisbury as a static training ship at Devonport in June 1985. She was replaced by a converted barge in 1987 and laid up. She subsequently left Devonport on February 15th 1988 and was broken up at Millom.
Dido Dido was originally ordered and laid down as the Rothesay Class frigate Hastings but was completed as a unit of the Leander Class. As a result her internal layout differed slightly from later Leander Class Frigates. Although the naming ceremony still went ahead, fog prevented Dido’s launch occurring on 21st December 1961 and she took to the water the following day. On May 16th 1969 Dido attended a Fleet Review at Spithead to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of NATO. The 1981 Defence Review called for the disposal of some older frigates. Like her sister ship Bacchante, Dido was paid off and sold to New Zealand. After a short refit by Vosper Thornycroft she recommissioned as HMNZS Southland on 18th July 1983. Southland was eventually decommissioned in 1995, having been replaced by a newer Anzac Class Frigate.
Penelope Nick-named 'Penny'. Penelope was originally ordered and laid down as a fifth unit of the Salisbury Class named Coventry, but was completed as a unit of the Leander Class. In March 1966 Penelope began a conversion at Devonport into a Scientific Trials Ship for the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment. Her 4.5 inch guns and other weapon systems were mothballed while the housing for the Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) was plated over. She was subsequently employed on noise, propeller and towing trials. In 1972 her 4.5 inch turret was removed altogether at Devonport Dockyard in order to make room for a wardroom annex for extra scientific staff. Between 1971 and 1972 she underwent further trials for Seawolf. In 1977 Penelope was refitted with Exocet and Sea Cat. Penelope served in the latter stages of the Falklands War where she was the last ship attacked. She had sailed with the reinforcement group led by HMS Bristol. Whilst participating in Exercise Teamwork ‘88 Penelope collided with HMCS Provider, a Canadian supply ship and sustained damage to her port side both above and below the waterline. Penelope was one of several Leanders sold for further use in South American navies. In 1991 she was transferred Ecuador and renamed ‘Presidente Eloy Alfaro’
Aurora Whilst most of the Leander Conversions were undertaken at Devonport Dockyard, the large workload saw Aurora converted at Chatham between 1972 and 1976. On September 19th 1972 Aurora came to the aid of the Jon Eiriksson, a fire stricken Icelandic Fishing boat, and rescued five crew members. Although she was scheduled to remain in service until 1988 manpower problems led to her paying off 1st May 1987. Both she and Euryalus were eventually sold to DML (Devonport Management Limited) in the hope of resale to a foreign navy or as a source of spares for other Leanders On August 1st 1988 she was towed from Portsmouth to Devonport. However, no buyer could be found and she arrived at Barrow-in-Furness on July 18th 1990 where she was lightened before she was beached at Millom on 19th August. On September 6th she moved to a berth at Millom and scrapping commenced by Duddon Valley Shipbreakers.
Euryalus There are reportedly 32 ways of spelling ‘Euryalus’. Present at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. In 1982 Euryalus and sistership Leander were diverted from NATO Exercise Northern Wedding to aid the Fish Factory Ship, Ave Maria. The two ships rescued 45 people from the Portuguese vessel, ablaze off Essex coast. Euryalus paid off at Portsmouth Dockyard along with her sister ship Arethusa in May 1989. She was purchased by Devonport Management Ltd who hoped to refit and resell her. In the meantime she was laid up at Fareham Creek. However no buyer could be found and she was sold for scrap. Euryalus arrived at Barrow-in-Furness on 26th September 1990. Later taken to Millom where she was broken up by Duddon Valley Shipbreakers.
Galatea In December 1975 Galatea and Leander undertook a ‘Cod War’ Fishery Protection Patrol. On March 26th 1976 Galatea was rammed by the Icelandic Gunboat Baldur. In 1977 Galatea became the first Royal Navy vessel to enter No. 7 Dock of the new Frigate Refit Complex at Devonport. Galatea was captain of the First Frigate Squadron during the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. Paid off with Leander at Portsmouth in August 1986 and entered the Standby Squadron. Remained at Portsmouth until 13th June 1988 when she towed away by RMAS Rollicker for use as a target, being sunk eight days later in Exercise JMC 882 in the North Sea.
Arethusa Last major warship built for the Royal Navy by JS White of Cowes. Launched by Lady Hamilton, wife of Admiral Hamilton. Between March and April 1972 Arethusa participated in the Beira Patrol. On July 20th 1973 she collided with the Icelandic Gunboat Odinn whilst on ‘Cod War’ Fishery Protection Duties. Present at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. In 1985 Arethusa underwent a refit which saw her fitted with a Towed Array Sonar taken from the scrapped Rothesay Class Frigate HMS Lowestoft. Arethusa paid off on 4th April 1989 at Portsmouth Dockyard along with sistership Euryalus. She remained there until June 1st 1991 when, having been gutted internally, she towed out to sea to be sunk as a target.
Naiad Naiad was the 200th ship built for the Royal Navy by Yarrow. She was also the first Leander to be fitted with quadruple Seacat launchers aft instead of 40mm guns. Whilst on Fishery Protection duties off Iceland in 1976 Naiad was rammed by the Icelandic Gunboat Tyr and required repairs at Devonport. Present at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. It was planned that Naiad would enter the Standby Squadron in preparation for disposal in the early 1980s but in the increased workload in the aftermath of Falklands meant she remained in service and underwent her last refit in autumn of 1983. Paid off May 1st 1987. Naiad’s hulk, renamed HUL-VUL, was used for weapons effects tests between 1988 and 1990 and was sunk in 28th September 1990. She underwent shock, fire and blast trials and was used to analyse developments in weapon and ship technology learnt from Falklands Conflict.
Cleopatra Only Leander not named after a Greek Mythological character. Whilst in the Far East between 1968 and 1969 Cleopatra participated in the Beira Patrol. Present at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. Paid of June 1st 1992. Cleopatra and Minerva were sold for breaking up at Alang in India. They left Portsmouth under tow on September 21st 1993, but the tow was lost and they drifted. The journey was restarted at South Africa and they arrived at India in 1994.
Phoebe Launched by Lady Frewen, wife of Admiral Frewen. In 1966 Phoebe participated in the British withdrawal from Aden. In 1969 she attended the NATO 20th Anniversary Fleet Review at Spithead. 1971 came to the aid of volcano threatened island of St Vincent. Also in 1971, Phoebe served as guardship for the Nixon-Heath talks. In 1973 Phoebe starred in the BBC Television series ‘Warship’ as HMS Hero. Present at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. February 1978 became the first frigate to embark the Lynx helicopter. In July 1988 she led the rescue effort after the Piper Alpha oilrig explosion. Phoebe paid off at Devonport on 31st December 1990 and was laid up at Portsmouth. She left Portsmouth on 13th October 1992 for breaking up in India.
Minerva Between 1968 and 1969 Minerva was on station in the West Indies during civil unrest. As part of his Sub-Lieutenant qualifying course HRH Prince Charles joined Minerva in 1973 for a voyage to the West Indies. In 1975 whilst in the West Indies again Minerva transported police from the island of Tortola to Grand Turk where there was unrest. In October 1978 Minerva suffered a boiler room fire at Portsmouth and was towed to Chatham for repairs by RMAS Confident. On December 15th 1979 Minerva was alongside at Devonport during a storm, when a Dockyard cane crashed on to her and Type 21 Frigate Ambuscade, destroying Minerva’s starboard Seacat launcher and damaging her hanger and various aerials. Minerva left Portsmouth on May 10th 1982 for the Falklands war as part of the reinforcement group led by HMS Bristol. On arrival she relived Argonaut as a AA picket in San Carlos Water. During the warShe directed a Sea Harrier attack on an enemy C-130 Hercules aircraft. Returned to Plymouth with Amazon Class Frigate Active on 3rd August. On 22nd November 1982 Minerva rammed Yarmouth’s stern whilst docking at Portland. Between October 1984 and March 1985 Minerva carried out a Falklands patrol. In 1990 Minerva completed an extensive refit at Devonport Dockyard and joined the Dartmouth Training Squadron. She embarked on the Endeavour 90 training deployment visiting 15 countries in six moths including India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, USA, Mexico and the Caribbean. Minerva paid off 30th April 1992 and was sold with sistership Cleopatra for breaking up at Alang in India. They left Portsmouth under tow on September 21st 1993, but they lost the tow and drifted and the journey restarted at South Africa.
Sirius Sirius was the last warship built for the Royal Navy by Portsmouth Dockyard. In 1970 she came to the aid of the St Kitts ferry Disaster, rescuing 100 people. In recognition she won the Wilkinson Sword of Peace. Sirius found herself in political controversy when it was announced that she would be paid of just two years after a 20 million pound refit. After decommissioning on February 27th 1993 she was laid up at Portsmouth Dockyard. In September 1996 she was towed to Pembroke Dock for use as a target. Pressure from environmentalists delayed her sinking. She left Pembroke on the 19th September 1998 and was torpedoed in the Atlantic on September 30th submarine Spartan . She was the last Devonport based Leander.
Juno On February 7th 1976 Juno was rammed by the Icelandic Gunboat Tyr whilst on a ‘Cod War’ Patrol and a small fire started after petrol cans were ignited. On a second patrol on 7th March 1976 Juno collided again with Tyr. Under the 1981 Defence Review Juno was laid up at Chatham as part of the Standby Squadron. In September 1981 she was laid up at Rosyth to await conversion into a Fleet Navigation Training ship. The conversion began in 1985 and saw the removal of Juno weapons and equipment to make room for classrooms and accommodation. She recommissioned and replaced HMS Torquay as a Navigational Training Ship. In December 1986 she grounded in the Solent and required replacement screws and in winter 1987 Juno collided with Amazon Class Frigate Active. She served in this role until decommissioning in November 4th 1992. Juno was subsequently sold to Intershitra S & P and was towed to Vigo for breaking up in early 1995.
Argonaut Escorted the RMS Queen Mary on her final cruise to the USA. In 1971 Argonaut undertook a Beira Patrol. Argonaut was deployed on a ‘Cod War’ fishery protection patrol in 1973. In 1974 she evacuated British nationals from Cyprus. On May 21st 1982 Argonaut came under air attack whilst in San Carlos Water. In the first attack she suffered some damage to her Type 695 radar and upper deck, but nothing major. However at 1730 she was attacked by six Argentine Skyhawk aircraft and was hit by two 1000lb bombs. Neither exploded. The first bomb entered Argonaut’s hull just above the waterline between the engine and boiler rooms, smashing steam pipes and rupturing a boiler. The second bomb entered Argonaut 5 ft below the water line and passed through two fuel tanks and into the ship’s magazine where it detonated two Seacat missiles and other ammunition. This killed two of her ships company. Argonaut’s weapon systems were still functioning and she continued to fight. It took two days to eliminate the threat posed by the first bomb and six days to remove the second bomb. Underwent repairs alongside Stena Seaspread. On May 27th a fire was started by welding teams repairing the damage. Arrived home at Plymouth 20th June 1982. After the war she underwent repairs at Devonport Dockyard and was fitted with Towed Array Sonar at the same time. In 1984 Argonaut suffered a furnace explosion at Devonport and required a new boiler. In July 1987 Argonaut came to the rescue of Richard Branson’s hot air balloon the Virgin Atlantic Flyer, off Northern Ireland. In 1990? Argonaut acted as Flagship for the 75th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings, hosting the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence, First Sea Lord and other guests. Paid off at Portsmouth Dockyard on the 31st March 1993. Later sold to Intershitra S & P and towed out of Portsmouth 25th January 1995 to be broken up in Spain
Danae In 1977 Danae was present at the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. In 1982 she sailed with HMS Illustrious and Battleaxe to the Falklands to relieve Invincible and her escorts after the war had ended. In July 1983 she undertook a Falklands Patrol. Like her sister ship Penelope, Danae was sold to Ecuador. She was handed over at Devonport Dockyard in July 1991 and renamed ‘Morano Valverde’.
Hermione Although constructed and launched at the Linthouse yard of Alexander Stephen’s & Sons, Hermione was fitted out and completed at the Scotstoun yard of Yarrow Shipbuilders. Hermione attended the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. She was present in the Persian Gulf in 1987 during the Iran-Iraq war, where she escorted merchant ships through the Straits of Hormuz. The vessels she escorted referred to her as ‘the Wolf’. Paid off 1992. Sold for breaking up to Samsung (Hong Kong) Ltd. Towed by the tug Joseph Brown (formerly RMAS Rollicker) with Jupiter from Portsmouth Dockyard to the scrapyards in India between November 1997 and May 1998. During the journey repairs were necessary at Gibraltar after the two frigates were damaged in a storm off Portugal. Hermione arrived at Bombay on May 3rd 1998 and Joseph Brown towed Jupiter alone to Alang.
Andromeda Andromeda was the first warship on the scene after the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mobile Reserve Tanker Ennerdale struck an uncharted coral reef and sunk off the Bahamas in June 1970. In October 1970 she was onhand after the Pacific Glory ran aground near the Isle of Wight. In 1973 she undertook a ‘Cod War’ fishery protection patrol and on August 11th was rammed by the Icelandic Gunboat Odinn. In 1974 she evacuated British citizens from Cyprus. Andromeda embarked on another fishery protection patrol in December 1975 and on December 28th she collided with the gunboat Tyr as it attacked a trawler. The collision damaged Andromeda’s rocket launcher and she lost some guard-rail. On January 7th 1976 she was rammed by the Thor and sustained a 12 ft dent in her hull, whilst protecting the trawler Ross Resolution. Andromeda was one of the fifteen British Leander Class frigates present at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. She served in the Falklands Conflict (mainly escorting Invincible), sailing with the reinforcement group led by HMS Bristol. In May 1984 she began a patrol of the Falklands Islands which lasted until August. Andromeda paid off in June 1993 and spent two years in ‘extended readiness’ before being sold to India for a reported £65000. She underwent a £1 million refit at Devonport dockyard and was recommissioned by the Indian Navy on the 22nd August 1995. Most of her armaments were removed and she became a training vessel named ‘Krishna’.
Jupiter Replaced Phoebe as the warship HMS Hero in the television series ‘Warship’ and adopted Phoebe’s pennant number for continuity. In 1970 Jupiter was onhand during troubles in Trinidad and in 1972 she was onhand during troubles in St Lucia. Between 1973 and 1974 she deployed to the Far East with the Prince of Wales serving aboard. Jupiter helped evacuate British Nationals from South Yemen in 1986: she arrived off Aden on January 16th and provided a communication link between the Royal Yacht and the shore. She also ferried evacuees herself from Aden to the African port of Djibouti. Paid off at Portsmouth on April 22nd 199?. Sold to Samsung (Hong Kong) Ltd for scrapping in September 1997. Towed together with her sister ship Hermione by the tug Joseph Brown (ex RMAS Rollicker) to India where she was broken up at Alang.
Bacchante Launched by Lady Twiss, wife of Admiral Sir Frank Twiss, Second Sea Lord. In 1971 Bacchante was onhand in the West Indies during troubles in Bermuda and Antigua. In September 1974 Bacchante acted as ‘Cowes Guardship’ during Cowes Week. In July 1976 Bacchante, along with Type 12 frigate Lowestoft and County Class destroyer London, represented the Royal Navy at an International Naval Review off New York, commemorating the US Bicentenary. Became the first of her class to leave the Royal Navy when she was sold to New Zealand. She was renamed ‘Wellington’ after the nation’s capital city. Wellington decommissioned in 2000.
Charybdis Nicknamed "Cherry B" and accordingly wore a funnel badge depicting a bunch of cherries and a bee. Charybdis was the last ship built for the Navy by Harland & Wolf until RFA Fort Victoria in the early 1990s. Charybdis was in attendance at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Review of the Fleet at Spithead. Decommissioned September 30th 1991. Charybdis was sunk as a target on 11th June 1993.
Scylla On January 23rd 1973 Scylla collided with the Torpoint Chain Ferry at Plymouth. In May 1973 she embarked on a ‘Cod War’ Fishery Protection Patrol and was rammed by the Icelandic Gunboat Aegir on June 7th. On June 24th 1974 Scylla arrived at Possession Island to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s original landing. Scylla undertook more ‘Cod War’ patrols between 1975 and 1976. In 1977 she attended the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. In August 1980 Scylla dispatched emergency relief teams to the hurricane stricken island Cayman Brac. She underwent exocet modernisation between 1980 and 1984. Laid up in Portsmouth Harbour where she was the responsibility of the disposal and reserve ship’s organisation. After the departure of her sister ship Sirius in 1998, Scylla became the last remaining Leander class vessel left in the United Kingdom
Achilles In 1975 Achilles evacuated British nationals from Vietnam. Whilst in the English Channel on November 12th 1975, Achilles collided in fog with the Greek registered tanker Olympic Alliance. Four men were injured and she suffered considerable damage to her bows. After the damage was inspected at Portsmouth, Achilles sailed to Devonport for repairs where a new bow section was welded in place. In 1976 she undertook a ‘Cod War’ Fishery Protection patrol. The next year she was deployed in support of the British garrison in Belize. Achilles was due to pay off into Standby Squadron in 1982, but was reprieved as a result of the Falklands Conflict. In 1983 she joined the Orient Express deployment. After spending 1989 in the Dartmouth Training Squadron Achilles eventually paid off on 27th March 1990 and was laid up at Devonport. Achilles was sold to Chile in September 1990 and delivered to her new South American owners on the heavy lift ship Mighty Servant Four. She was renamed ‘Ministro Zenteno’ (PF-08) and now operates out of the port of Valparaiso.
Diomede Nicknamed "Dimweed". Diomede was launched by Lady Mills. In 1971 Diomede was diverted to aid a fire stricken Liberian tanker named Espia in the English Channel. In 1976 Diomede embarked on a ‘Cod War’ fishery protection patrol. On February 13th 1976 she was rammed by the Icelandic gunboat Baldur. On March 10th she collided with Baldur and three days later she was rammed by another gunboat, Tyr. On 27th March she was rammed by Baldur again. She sustained considerable damage from these four incidents including five holes above the waterline one of which was 20 feet long. She withdrew from the area and returned to Rosyth Dockyard for repairs. In 1977 she attended the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead. Diomede’s Seawolf conversion was cancelled under the 1981 Defence Review and she was scheduled to enter the Standby Squadron at Chatham. However she remained in service as a result of the Falklands War. Diomede eventually paid off on May 31st 1988. she was sold to Pakistan in July the same year and renamed ‘Shamsher’.
Apollo Penultimate Leander Class Frigate. On August 29th 1973 Apollo collided with the Icelandic Gunboat Aegir whilst on a ‘Cod War’ Patrol. Apollo attended the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. In 1982 she undertook a patrol of the Falkland Islands following the end of hostilities but whilst in the heavy South Atlantic seas she encountered bad weather and her hull was damaged. Paid off August 31st 1988. Sold for service in the Pakistani Navy in July 1988 and renamed ‘Zulfiguar’.
Ariadne As the last Leander Class Frigate to enter service, Ariadne held the distinction of being the last steam powered vessel built for the Royal Navy. In 1973 she undertook a ‘Cod War’ Patrol. In 1977 Ariadne was one of the fifteen Royal Navy Leanders to attend the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead. Whilst serving in the West Indies in 1981 Ariadne was diverted to the island of Bequia (part of the Grenadines) and assisted fighting a fire in the Island’s power generating station. In 1982 Ariadne needed emergency repairs to her port shaft and docked in Admiralty Floating Dock 60 (ADF60), the first frigate ever to do so. In November 1983 Ariadne was assigned to shadow the soviet cruiser Slava off Ireland. In 1986 Ariadne was onhand to assist with Jamaican flood relief. Ariadne spent the last three years of her Royal Navy career attached to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth, as a training ship for young officers. Ariadne was the last Gun Leander to serve in the Royal Navy and the last Royal Navy warship to fire the Limbo mortar. She ceremonially fired her 4.5 inch guns for the last time off the Isle of Wight before decommissioning on December 30th 1992?. Ariadne was sold to Chile in 1992 and renamed ‘General Banquedano’ (PF-90). She paid off in 1998.

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© Written and researched by Jeremy Olver. First uploaded 15th January 2001. Updated 15th January 2001. Disclaimer