HMS Ajax (F114)

HMS Ajax was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She was built by the famous Cammell Laird company of Birkenhead. Ajax was launched on 16 August 1962 and commissioned on 10 December 1963. She was originally intended to be named HMS Fowey, and laid down as a Rothesay class, but instead became part of Batch 1 of the Leander class.

HMS Ajax underway
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Ajax
Builder: Cammell Laird
Laid down: 12 October 1959
Launched: 16 August 1962
Commissioned: 10 December 1963
Decommissioned: 31 May 1985
Identification: Pennant number: F114
Nickname(s): White tornado
Fate: Scrapped 1988
General characteristics
Class and type: Leander-class frigate
  • 2,450 tons standard
  • 2,860 tons full load
Length: 372 ft (113 m)
Beam: 41 ft (12 m)
Draught: 18 ft (5 m)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 5,300 nmi (9,800 km; 6,100 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 251 as built, 257 after Ikara refit
Aircraft carried: 1 × Wasp helicopter


Ajax was built by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead. She was laid down, with the yard number 1285, as a Rothesay-class frigate to be called Fowey on 19 October 1959, but in 1960 it was decided to complete the ship as one of the new Leander class, with the new name Ajax.[1] Ajax was launched on 16 August 1962[2] and was commissioned on 11 December 1963. Total construction cost was £4,800,000[3]

The ship was 372 feet (113.4 m) long overall and 360 feet (109.7 m) at the waterline, with a beam of 41 feet (12.5 m) and a maximum draught of 18 feet (5.5 m). Displacement was 2,380 long tons (2,420 t) standard and 2,860 long tons (2,910 t) full load. Two oil-fired boilers fed steam at 550 pounds per square inch (3,800 kPa) and 850 °F (454 °C) to a pair of double reduction geared steam turbines that in turn drove two propeller shafts, with the machinery rated at 30,000 shaft horsepower (22,000 kW), giving a speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph).[4]

A twin 4.5-inch (114 mm) Mark 6 gun mount was fitted forward. While the Leander class was planned to be fitted with the Sea Cat surface-to-air missile, Ajax was completed with two Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns as a temporary substitute until Sea Cat could be fitted. A Limbo anti-submarine mortar was fitted aft to provide a short-range anti-submarine capability, while a hangar and helicopter deck allowed a single Westland Wasp helicopter to be operated, for longer range anti-submarine and anti-surface operations.[5]

As built, Ajax was fitted with a large Type 965 long range air search radar on the ship's mainmast, with a Type 993 short range air/surface target indicating radar and Type 974 navigation radar carried on the ship's foremast. An MRS3 fire control system was carried to direct the 4.5-inch guns.[6] The ship had a sonar suite of Type 177 medium range search sonar, Type 162 bottom search and Type 170 attack sonar, while the ship was designed to carry a Type 199 variable depth sonar (VDS), this was not installed on Ajax.[7][8]

Service history

In 1964, Ajax deployed to the Far East, becoming leader of the 24th Escort Group. It was a long deployment, and she did not return to the UK until 1968.[9] Activities included taking part in the Beira Patrol, covering the withdrawal of British forces from operations off Aden and acting as guardship for Hong Kong.[10] In 1970, Ajax became the Gibraltar guard ship,[9] a required deployment at that time due to the tense fears of invasion by General Franco.

In September 1970, Ajax began a modernisation at Devonport Dockyard that lasted to 1973,[9] having her 4.5-inch gun turret replaced by an Ikara anti-submarine missile system. A pair of quadruple GWS22 SeaCat launchers were fitted aft while the two Bofors guns were retained but moved forward to abreast the ship's mainmast. The Limbo anti-submarine mortar and Wasp helicopter was retained. The long-range Type 965 radar was removed, with improved navigation and target indicating radars fitted, and the ADAWS 5 computer aided combat direction system added to direct Ikara operations, while the Type 199 VDS was restored.[11][12]

Following her conversion she became leader of the 8th Frigate Squadron.[13] In 1974, she assisted in the evacuation of British citizens after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In 1976, while on a visit to Canada, Ajax visited the town of Ajax, Ontario, which had been named in honour of her predecessor, the Leander-class cruiser Ajax made famous by the Battle of the River Plate during the Second World War. The 'new' Ajax was granted the freedom of the city.

In 1977, Ajax underwent a refit at Devonport Dockyard,[9] deploying in 1979 to the Mediterranean. In 1980, she underwent a refit at Gibraltar which was completed in 1981. That year, Ajax became leader of the 1st Frigate Squadron.[9] She did not take part in the 1982 Falklands War, but was deployed as Persian Gulf guard ship; she later completed a four-month deployment around the Falklands as part of the South Atlantic Protection Force in 1984. She participated in further deployments that culminated in the highlight of her final year in 1985, when she escorted HMY Britannia, which took a number of the Royal Family on a tour of Italy.[14]


She was decommissioned 31 May 1985, then replaced HMS Salisbury as a static training ship at Devonport. On 3 August 1988, Ajax arrived at Millom, Cumbria to be broken up.

Her anchor is now located at the local Royal Canadian Legion Branch (Hunt Street) and bell hangs in the Ajax Town Council Chamber in Ajax, Ontario.

Commanding officers


19631965Captain The Hon D P Seely RN
19651966Captain Gordon Tait DSC RN
19661968Captain George A de G Kitchin RN
19681969Captain David Hepworth RN
19691970Captain Harry R Keate RN
19701973Refit (Ikara Conversion)
19731974Captain Richard J Bates RN
19741976Captain David J MacKenzie RN
19761977Captain Robert Squires RN
19771978Captain Peter Cobb RN
19781980Captain M J F Rawlinson RN
19801981Captain Timothy M. Bevan RN
19811983Captain Jeremy Michael Porter RN
19831984Captain Peter Abbott RN
19841985Captain John F S Trinder RN


  1. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, pp. 32, 109, 112.
  2. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, p. 33.
  3. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, pp. 36, 109.
  4. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, p. 111.
  5. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, pp. 33–34.
  6. Osborne and Sowden 1990, pp. 33, 35.
  7. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, pp. 33–34, 112.
  8. Marriott 1983, p. 79.
  9. Critchley 1986, p. 116.
  10. "Ajax Home After Four Years Abroad". Navy News. March 1968. p. 7. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  11. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, pp. 55–57, 111.
  12. Marriott 1986, pp. 80, 82.
  13. Mackie, Colin. "I: Royal Navy Senior Appointments". British Armed Forces (1900–). p. 187. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  14. Osborne and Sowdon 1990, p. 60.
  15. Mackie, Colin. "II: Royal Navy- Captains Commanding Warships". British Armed Forces (1900–). Retrieved 19 January 2014.


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