HMS Arrow (F173)

HMS Arrow was a Type 21 frigate of the Royal Navy.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Arrow
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down: 28 September 1972
Launched: 5 February 1974
Commissioned: 28 July 1976
Decommissioned: 1 March 1994
Identification: Pennant number: F173
  • Celeriter certus
  • (Latin: "Swiftly sure")
Fate: Sold to Pakistan on 1 March 1994
Name: PNS Khaibar
Acquired: 1 March 1994
Status: Ship in active service
General characteristics
Class and type: Type 21 frigate
Displacement: 3,250 tons full load
Length: 384 ft (117 m)
Beam: 41 ft 9 in (12.73 m)
Draught: 19 ft 6 in (5.94 m)
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,408 km; 4,603 mi) at 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Complement: 177
Aircraft carried: 1 × Westland Wasp helicopter, later refitted for 1 × Lynx

Arrow participated in the Falklands War, engaging with Argentine aircraft, a submarine, and firing at land forces in Darwin, Goose Green, and Mount Longdon. She also rescued most of the surviving crew of HMS Sheffield.


Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, she was completed with Exocet launchers in 'B' position.

Falklands War service

During the 1982 Falklands War, Arrow started the bombardment of enemy positions at Port Stanley airfield on 1 May (the first munition landed on the Falklands), and the ship was the first to be hit by an Argentine Air Force fighter,[1] sustaining minor damage to the funnel, and the first human casualty (minor shrapnel wounds) of the conflict.

On 2 May Arrow was assigned to a three-ship Surface Action Group (SAG) against what was thought to be an Argentine surface ship south of East Falkland. With the Exocets at high readiness the mission was aborted when the ship's navigator identified the supposed target as an island.

On 4 May she assisted in extinguishing the fires and evacuating the crew of the Type 42 destroyer Sheffield, which had been struck by an Exocet missile. The crew showed conspicuous bravery in this rescue effort, saving 225 of the 266 surviving crew of Sheffield, and Arrow's captain, Commander (later Captain) Paul Bootherstone was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry during the action.[2]

On 6 May Arrow conducted a bombardment of Argentine positions at Fox Bay West Falkland.

On the night 10 /11 May, Arrow lay at the northern end of the channel which separates West and East Falkland whilst Alacrity transited it in a south to north direction to assess whether the channel was mined which could prevent the later landings at San Carlos Water. Alacrity duly transited the channel on exiting at speed. Unknown to Arrow and Alacrity an Argentine submarine was in the area. Argentine submarine ARA San Luis fired a torpedo which smashed Arrow's towed decoy[1]. A second torpedo impacted the ship’s hull but failed to detonate due to the warhead failing to arm itself prior to impact.[3]

From 21 May, she supported troops of the Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment (2 Para) in the successful attack at Goose Green.[4]

Arrow survived Bomb Alley (San Carlos Water anchorage) longer than any other ship. During this time she received temporary repairs to hull cracks - Seadart lifting beams were welded to her upper decks on each side.

On rejoining the Task Force datalink she was greeted with 'I thought you were sunk'. On passage east at night Arrow detected an unknown surface target inshore - to identify the vessel she closed and fired 3 star-shells over what turned out to be a UK landing craft mechanised (LCM) which was then escorted to Berkeley Sound. This was the last Mk 8 illuminant fired in conflict.

Arrow also gave covering fire in the lead up to the surrender of Port Stanley. By war's end, she had destroyed three Argentine aircraft, seven gun emplacements and two radar stations.[5]

Argentine claim

The silhouette of Arrow is to be found, along with the date 1 May, painted on the side of Argentine Air Force Dassault Mirage 5/IAI Dagger serial number C-412, along with a similar silhouette representation of HMS Brilliant and the date 21 May, implying a successful action by the aircrew against these vessels. These kill markings are however overstated, and refer merely to damage which both ships suffered during the conflict, which may or may not have been caused by this particular aircraft. Arrow was slightly damaged by cannon fire on 1 May 1982, and HMS Brilliant was slightly damaged by cannon fire on 21 May 1982 outside San Carlos Water. The aircraft was reportedly observed still bearing these distinguishing marks as late as November 2005 (twenty-three years after the conflict) at the multi-national Exercise Ceibo in Argentina.

Later Royal Navy service

By the mid-1980s Arrow was suffering from cracking in her hull. Much of this had first arisen during the Falklands conflict, when engineers were obliged to weld steel plates and girders to parts of the ship where cracks were opening up in the aluminium superstructure.[6] After the war she was taken in for refitting, with a large steel plate being welded down each side of the ship. At the same time modifications were made to reduce hull noise.

In early 1985, Arrow spent 312 months as Guardship in the West Indies.[7] The vessel continued in service until 1994, and was decommissioned and removed from the fleet on 1 March that year.

Pakistan Navy service

Following decommissioning Arrow was transferred to Pakistan and renamed PNS Khaibar.[8] The Exocet missile system was not transferred to Pakistan and Khaibar had her obsolete Sea Cat missile launcher removed. A Phalanx CIWS was later fitted in place of the Sea Cat launcher. SRBOC chaff launchers and 20 mm and 30 mm guns were fitted. Khaibar remains in service with the Pakistan Navy, who purchased from the United Kingdom Government all six surviving Type 21 frigates of the eight originally built (two were lost in the Falklands).[9]

Commanding officers

19761977Commander Nick J Barker RN
19771979Commander W L Davis RN
19791980Commander J D McPetrie RN
19801982Commander Paul J Bootherstone RN
19821984Commander Christopher W Pile RN
19841986Commander Anthony G McEwen RN
19861988Commander Christopher Beagley RN
19891990Commander Richard M Davey RN
19901991Commander Stephen C Jermy RN
19911993Commander David C Goodall RN


  • AirForces Monthly Magazine February 2006, page 61.
  1. "Captain Paul Bootherstone obituary". Guardian. 9 April 2001.
  2. "Captain Paul Bootherstone obituary". Telegraph. 13 March 2001.
  4. Referenced in this report.
  5. "Flying salute as Arrow sails home". Navy News p.23. August 1982.
  6. These facts are fully referenced, with photographs, by the wartime crew at this location.
  7. "Arrow Homes in from Windies". Navy News. May 1985. p. 15. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  8. D-183 PNS Khaibar
  9. Referenced at this site.


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