County Class


Country: United Kingdom

The County Class destroyers were the first British warships built with guided missiles. They were designed around the Sea Slug beam riding anti-aircraft missile system. County Class destroyers were intended as fleet escorts to provide long and close range anti-aircraft cover for fast carrier groups. The vessels turned out larger than had been planned, mainly due to handling arrangements for the large but effective Sea Slug missile. Stabilised and fully air-conditioned they were commissioned into service between 1962-70.

They were the only British ships to carry the Seaslug system. In the mid-1970s the refitted batch of two vessels received the Sea Slug Mk.2 system and were also the first Royal Navy vessels to carry the French Exocet anti-ship missile.

First to be decommissioned was Hampshire in 1976 due to defence cuts. She was followed by Devonshire in 1978. Kent served as a training ship from 1980 to 1983.

Antrim and Glamorgan both served in the Falklands campaign of 1982, their endurance, large size and heavy gun armament being prized assets. Antrim was the flagship of Operation Paraquat, the recovery of South Georgia in April 1982, and was later struck by an unexploded bomb whilst in San Carlos Water. Glamorgan was seriously damaged by a shore-based Argentine Exocet missile on 12 June 1982 whilst bombarding Argentine shore positions, 13 crew being killed.

In 1984 the repaired Glamorgan helped British peacekeeping operations in Lebanon.

Replaced by Type 42 Destroyers; All four batch 2 vessels (Fife, Glamorgan, Antrim, Norfolk) were sold on to Chilean Navy for further service between 1982-86, as was London to the Pakistani Navy in 1982. Fife was the last County class in RN service, latterly as a training ship.

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