Bulldog-class survey vessel

The Bulldog class was a four ship class of survey vessels in service with the Royal Navy from the late 1960s until the start of the 21st century. Initially designed with service overseas in mind, they spent most of their careers off the British coast. A fifth ship was subsequently built to a modified design to support them in their activities. Decommissioned and sold off at the end of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries, they have continued in service as civilian vessels, with some being converted to private yachts and others entering other commercial sectors.

Class overview
Name: Bulldog class
Builders: Brooke Marine, Lowestoft
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Hecla class
Succeeded by: Echo class
Built: 1967–1968
In commission: 1968–2002
Completed: 4
Retired: 4
General characteristics
Type: Survey vessel
Displacement: 1,050 long tons (1,067 t)
Length: 189 ft 6 in (57.76 m)
Beam: 37 ft 5 in (11.40 m)
Draught: 12 ft (3.7 m)
  • 4 × Lister Blackstone diesel engines
  • 660 bhp each
  • 2 × shafts
Speed: 15 knots (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km) at 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
2 × 9.5 m survey boats
  • 4 officers
  • 34 ratings
Sensors and
processing systems:
1 × 1007
Armament: None (fitted for 2 × 20 mm Oerlikon GP)


The Bulldogs were designated as coastal survey vessels, and were a smaller variant of the earlier Hecla-class designs.[1] All four ships were built by Brooke Marine utilising merchant hulls.[1] The resulting design was stable in a variety of sea conditions, and the class was considered to be good seakeepers, with an all-welded construction, a bulbous bow and a high flared forecastle.[1] Anti-rolling tanks and twin rudders were also fitted. The ships used eight-cylinder Lister Blackstone diesel engines powering two variable-pitch propellers and were fitted with precise navaids, specialised echo-sounders, magnetometer and a variety of sonar and radar. Bulldog was retrospectively fitted with Marconi Hydrosearch sector scanning sonar. In addition they carried two small surveying boats (18 ft/35 ft), fitted with an array of equipment and capable of conducting surveys in shallow water.[1]


They were intended to serve overseas in pairs, with four ships being ordered in the late 1960s: Bulldog and Beagle; Fawn and Fox.[1] Despite the original intention to use them overseas, the growth of the exploitation of the oil and gas reserves in the North Sea from the 1960s onwards led to them spending most of their time engaged in survey work off the British coast.[1] The increased demand for their services led to the Admiralty ordering a fifth ship to a modified design in the 1980s, which became HMS Roebuck.[1]

Fox was the first of the class to leave service, being sold to commercial interests in April 1989.[2] Fawn was paid off in October 1991 and sold to interests in West Germany to become an offshore support vessel of the West African and Chinese coasts under the name Red Fulmar.[3] Bulldog was paid off on 26 July 2001 and sold the following month for conversion to a luxury yacht. A major fire broke out while she was moored at Nelson, New Zealand and the conversion was not completed.[4] Beagle was the last to leave service. She was paid off on 7 February 2002 and sold the following month to a yacht company at Poole for conversion.[5]


Bulldog sub-group
Bulldog A317 Brooke Marine, Lowestoft 12 July 1967 1968 21 March 1968 Sold to private company, August 2001
Beagle A319 7 September 1967 1968 9 May 1968 Sold to private company as MY Titan, March 2002
Fawn A325 29 February 1968 10 September 1968 4 October 1968 Sold to commercial interest, October 1991
Fox A320 6 November 1967 1968 11 July 1968 Sold in April 1989 - Sank on relaunch HV Fox / Ultra Plus 2010 Bangkok. Delivered 2014 to Hong Kong, renamed Toy Heaven.
Roebuck sub-group
Roebuck H130 Brooke Marine, Lowestoft 14 November 1985 3 October 1986 Decommissioned 2010. Sold to Bangladesh Navy as BNS Anushandhan


  1. Beaver. Modern Royal Navy Warships. pp. 114–116.
  2. Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 133.
  3. Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 124.
  4. Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 52.
  5. Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 34.


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