I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

John Masefield, Sea-Fever

Personal note:

First my thanks for the support I have been getting, second my apologies: I was in the habit of writing this site while on night shift (ssh, don't tell the boss!) but since being taken off shift I have sort of lost the habit. I will get back into it.

I have had to delete all guest book entries following some twit flooding it, sorry about that, from now on it will be moderated to prevent such antics.

Guestbook

My sincere thanks again to Brian Burnell who produces such excellent work on British Nuclear Weapons http://www.nuclear-weapons.info/ he has supplied me with a Naval recognition manual containing a gold mine of WWII and immediate post war ships which I am starting to include.

Latest additions are details of Leander conversions and more detail on some of the Pre-War Sloops, more to come.

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This site is STILL undergoing refit

For centuries Britain was a Maritime power, though that is now passed and the Royal Navy declines into a slow death, abandoned by our leaders who forget the lessons of history.

Sea going trade was the lifeblood of the Nation and the safety of that trade was guaranteed by the Royal Navy, through long wars with the Dutch, French and Germans one particular Class of ship bore the brunt of that responsibility: The Escort.

I originally started this site as a study of the Ikara Leander, but I found it impossible not to include a history of the Escort to show how the ship had developed. I still aim to concentrate on the Leander, which in many ways was the pinnacle of Escort design, based on bitter lessons learned in the two huge wars of the 20th century in which the defence of the Sea was critical to the survival of this Country. But I will cast back in time to trace the lineage of this superb class of ship, and forward to it's heirs.

The Leander Class Frigate was a development of the Type 12 Frigate, in total 41 Type 12's, including 26 Leanders, were built for the Royal Navy and two generations of Sailors served in them, they formed the backbone of the Post War RN and were true Maids of all Work.

The first Type 12 was launched in July 1954, when the only people in space were Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, in that same month the BBC broadcasted it's first ever Televised News Program.

The whole nature of warfare was changing, just weeks earlier the Americans had detonated a Hydrogen Bomb at Bikini Atoll, the Korean was had recently ended after bringing the world perilously close to Nuclear War, but already Vietnam too was being divided in a futile attempt to stop that too becoming a flash point.

There were no TVs on that first Type 12, but the men would gather around a chattering projector to watch the latest Hollywood Blockbusters: The Caine Mutiny, or Hitchcock's The Rear Window, perhaps even a musical such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

In the summer of 1993 the last of the Great Type 12's left active service in the Royal Navy, after four decades of service. In that time thousands of us served on them, and despite war and the sea, they always brought us home. 


HMS Juno, Launched November 1965 she was a Type 12I, Leander Class Frigate, sharing the same basic hull, engines and largely identical weaponry as the Type 12 Whitby Class and Type 12M Rothesay Class Frigate.

Designed and built for war they were the last RN ships which were intended for mass production in non specialist yards should the need arise. They were intended to re-fight the Battle of the Atlantic.

The ships proved good, reliable sea keepers and served the RN well during the cold war, many others were built for export and there is no sea or ocean where a Type 12 has not sailed at some time.

"The Battle of the Atlantic was the only thing that ever frightened me."

Winston Churchill


The author on a Photo assignment and in a contemplative mood (or maybe just asleep), aboard a Wasp which has launched from HMS Arethusa, Ikara conversion of a Leander Class, seen here cruising off Gibraltar.