HMS Chatham (F87)

HMS Chatham was a Batch 3 Type 22 frigate of the British Royal Navy. She was decommissioned on 8 February 2011.

HMS Chatham in harbour, 2010
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Chatham
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down: 12 May 1986
Launched: 20 January 1988
Sponsored by: Lady Oswald
Commissioned: 4 May 1990
Decommissioned: 8 February 2011
Homeport: HMNB Devonport, Plymouth
  • "Up and at 'em"
  • Latin: Surge et vince
Status: Scrapped October 2013
General characteristics
Class and type: Type 22 frigate
Displacement: 5,300 tons
Length: 148.1 m (485 ft 11 in)
Beam: 14.8 m (48 ft 7 in)
Draught: 6.4 m (21 ft 0 in)
  • 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) (cruise)
  • 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) (max)
Complement: 250 (max. 301)
Aircraft carried:
  • 2 x Lynx Mk.8 helicopters (but only 1 Lynx in peace time).
  • Armed with
    • 4 × Sea Skua anti-ships missiles
    • 2 × Sting Ray anti-submarine torpedoes
    • 2 × Mk 11 depth charges
    • 2 × machine guns

She has the rare honour of a motto in English; Up and at 'em, being the rallying cry of the Medway town football and rugby teams.[3] The motto has subsequently been translated back into Latin as Surge et vince.

Operational history


Chatham joined Operation Sharp Guard to enforce the embargo against the former Yugoslavia in 1993. Her most remarkable action was the capture of the Maltese freighter Lido II, suspected of smuggling fuel to Montenegro, on 1 May 1994. The British frigate was assisting the Dutch frigate HNLMS Van Kinsbergen, who stopped the merchant, when three Yugoslav corvettes of the Končar class challenged the NATO operation and one of them tried to ram Chatham. The corvettes were eventually driven off by the reaction of the British warship, supported by Italian Tornado aircraft which scrambled from an airbase at Gioia Del Colle. Lido II underwent repairs before being diverted to Italy, because of sabotage to the ship's engine room by her crew. The leaking was contained by an engineer party from Chatham. Seven Yugoslav stowaways were found on board.[4][5]

Under the command of Captain Christopher Clayton, she was guardship to the royal yacht HMY Britannia during the withdrawal from Hong Kong in 1997[3] (and served as the control military operations in the months prior to the handover).


In May 2000, Chatham was part of the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) sent to the coast of Sierra Leone to oversee the evacuation of British, EU and Commonwealth nationals as part of Operation Palliser, under the captaincy of George Zambellas.

In March 2003 Chatham became the first British warship to fire her guns in anger as part of Operation Telic when she engaged targets on the Al-Faw Peninsula of southern Iraq. Approximately 60 rounds were fired at a variety of targets from her 4.5-inch gun. In company with HMS Marlborough, HMS Richmond and HMAS Anzac she remained on station for the following 72 hours at immediate readiness to provide fire support to the troops of the Royal Marines as they advanced up the peninsula.

Chatham deployed from the UK to the Persian Gulf in January and returned in August. During the deployment, in the run up to and the conduct of the invasion of Iraq the ship spent around 90 days at sea continuously in defence watches in the northern part of the Persian Gulf. At times she came very close to hitting mines laid by Iraqi dhows and tugs in the shallow waters to be found in the area.

Chatham hosted the BBC for the television programme Shipmates which charted the life of ordinary sailors in the Royal Navy. In the program Chatham was filmed on active service in the Persian Gulf, whilst on an anti-terrorist mission. The show also covered the Chatham's humanitarian relief efforts off the coast of Sri Lanka after the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004.[6]

On 18 April 2005, Chatham sent a party ashore at Alexandria in Egypt to provide a burial for the recently uncovered remains of thirty British sailors and officers who had died during or after the Battle of the Nile in 1798.[7]

On 31 October 2006, she visited the town of Chatham, Massachusetts, on her way to Boston.

In 2008 Chatham was responsible for the capture of six tonnes of the 23-tonne narcotic haul seized by the Royal Navy between January and August 2008. As of March 2010, she was the NATO flagship for international naval operations against Somali piracy.[8]


On 17 May 2010, Chatham destroyed two pirate boats in the Somali Basin, forcing the pirates to return in the mother ship to Somalia.

On 20 May 2010 Cyclone Bandu disabled a cargo vessel, MV Dubai Moon, and left her drifting off the Somali coast. Before the cargo vessel sank, 23 crew members were rescued by helicopters from Chatham.[9]

Decommissioning and disposal

As a result defence cuts, HMS Chatham arrived in Plymouth for the last time on 27 January 2011. The ship was decommissioned in February 2011.[10] She was stripped of equipment and laid up at Portsmouth and in July 2013 sold to Turkish company Leyal for demolition.

In autumn 2013, Chatham was towed to the Leyal shipyard in Turkey on her final voyage for breaking.[11]


Chatham is affiliated to a number of military and civil bodies:[12]

Ship's Sponsor: Lady Oswald

Notable commanding officers

Almost all the commanders of Chatham subsequently achieved Flag rank including Captain Ian Forbes, Captain Tony Hogg, Captain Paul Boissier, Captain Christopher Clayton, Captain Trevor Soar and Captain George Zambellas.


  1. "Royal Navy Bridge Card, February 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  2. Royal Navy Major Surface Vessel
  3. "Ship background - HMS Chatham at Navy News". Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  4. "NATO and WEU ships encounter Yugoslav Navy while preventing violation of UN embargo". Press Release by NATO/WEU force conducting the Operation Sharp Guard in the Adriatic Sea, 1 May 1994. Release 94/13
  5. McLaughlin, Rob (2009). United Nations Naval Peace Operations in the Territorial Sea. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, p. 42, note 81. ISBN 90-04-17479-6
  6. "BBC Website - Shipmates". Retrieved 25 October 2006.
  7. Smith, Tannalee. "30 Members of British Fleet Reburied". Associated Press, 18 April 2005.
  8. "Nato warship destroys pirate boats in Somali Basin". BBC. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  9. "Devon-based ship saves crew caught in tropical cyclone". BBC News. 22 May 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  10. "Crew Says Farewell To HMS Chatham". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011.
  11. "Royal Navy frigates sold off for scrap for £3m". BBC News. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  12. "HMS Chatham affiliations - Royal Navy Website". Retrieved 20 June 2009.
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