Rothesay Class


Country: United Kingdom

These were modified Type 12 frigates, basically similar to the Whitby class, but with updates and modifications in layout. They were the forerunners of the highly successful Leander class frigates. Nine were commissioned 1960-61 and named after seaside towns. All were reconstructed and modernised to Leander class standards 1966 – 1972, being equipped for helicopter operation with a flight deck and hangar added aft, new operations room and full air conditioning and Seacat missile system.

They participated in the Beira Patrol 1966 – 1975 as part of the sanctions against Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government, and in 1970 Londonderry patrolled Malaysian waters during the Indonesian confrontation. They were also active in the 1970s ‘Cod Wars’ acting as Fishery Protection Vessels, with numerous skirmishes, collisions and rammings with Icelandic gunboats.

They also helped with NATO commitments as part of Standing Force North Atlantic and as guard ships at Gibraltar and the West Indies and other locations ‘Flying the Flag’. Londonderry was used latterly as a trials ship for the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment and Harbour Training Ship. They were withdrawn into Reserve Fleet from 1981, though Plymouth and Yarmouth served as the oldest frigates/destroyers in the Falklands Campaign task force in 1982. On 25 May 1982, Yarmouth attacked and destroyed an Argentine A-4C aircraft, and was involved in rescue/salvage attempts for Falklands casualties Sheffield, Ardent, and Glamorgan, as well as providing gunfire support for the final assault on Port Stanley; Plymouth was hit by four bombs (three of which failed to explode) but shot down two Argentine Mirage jets. Others were brought out of reserve to serve in home waters replacing vessels on Falklands Duties.

Expensive to run and maintain compared to newer vessels, all were withdrawn by April 1988, (along with their Wasp Helicopters) though the last serving survivor, HMS Plymouth, was on public display, latterly at Birkenhead, from 1991until 2006. Of the others, three were scrapped and five sunk as targets 1985 - 1989.

A tenth vessel served with the Royal New Zealand Navy as HMNZS Otago, and three further vessels of the class were built for the South African Navy.

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