HMS Cumberland (F85)

HMS Cumberland was a Batch 3 Type 22 frigate of the British Royal Navy. She was launched in 1986 and commissioned on 10 June 1989. The frigate was on station during the First Gulf War and was part of the Devonport Flotilla based at Devonport Dockyard. Cumberland was decommissioned on 23 June 2011.

HMS Cumberland and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Cumberland
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down: 12 October 1984
Launched: 21 June 1986
Commissioned: 10 June 1989
Decommissioned: 23 June 2011[1]
Homeport: HMNB Devonport, Plymouth
  • Latin Justitia Tenax
  • ("Tenacious of Justice")
Nickname(s): The Fighting Sausage (after the Cumberland sausage)[3]
Fate: Sold for scrap November 2013
General characteristics
Class and type: Type 22 frigate
Displacement: 5,300 tons
Length: 148.1 m (486 ft 9 in)
Beam: 14.8 m (48 ft 6 in)
Draught: 6.4 m (21 ft)
  • 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 peacetime).
  • Armed with
    • 4 × Sea Skua anti-shipping missiles
    • 2 × Sting Ray anti-submarine torpedoes
    • 2 × Mk 11 depth charges
    • 2 × Machine guns


On commissioning she became part of the 8th Frigate Squadron. Her first commanding officer was Captain Mike Gregory. Captain Gregory, a submariner, was previously awarded the OBE for the longest continuously submerged patrol in Royal Navy history.

The ship's first two deployments were to the US and Canada, in 1989 and 1990 respectively. The first in 1989 called at both Fort Lauderdale and Baltimore where the ship became the focus of an anti-nuclear protest over suspicions that the ship carried nuclear weapons. In 1990, she again crossed the Atlantic to visit New York, before sailing North to the St Lawrence Seaway with a brief stop in Montreal followed by a 10-day visit to Toronto. This was followed by an unscheduled 24-hour stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia to repair some ship equipment damaged in bad weather, and then a visit to St Johns, Newfoundland.

She spent the winter of 1990–91 as the Royal Navy surface vessel patrolling the Falkland Islands. She sailed to South Georgia just before Christmas arriving at Grytviken on 22 December. She sailed along the coast of South Georgia and returned to Grytviken on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day she hosted the soldiers of the South Georgia garrison aboard for Christmas Day lunch of venison. The stag had been shot the day before by a sniper from the garrison; part of the garrison's duties being to control the deer population on the Island. While in South Georgia the ship manoeuvred into Cumberland Bay where a glacier sweeps into the sea. A photograph of the ship with the glacier as a back-drop was taken from the ship's Lynx helicopter. Ice was collected from the glacier and kept in the ship's freezers for use at cocktail parties during the return leg of her patrol.

On 26 September 2000, Cumberland worked with local fishermen to aid the rescue of survivors of the Greek ferry Express Samina which ran aground two miles off the island of Paros.

In 2003 Cumberland embarked two teams from M Squadron, Special Boat Service (SBS) and (in partnership with RFA Wave Knight) seized 3.6 tonnes of cocaine in the mid-Atlantic as part of an anti-drug operation. In October 2005 she intercepted and boarded a speedboat in the Caribbean Sea off Nicaragua from which they seized two tonnes of cocaine, and detained four suspects. The cocaine was estimated to have a street value of £200 million.[5]

During this time Chris Cranmer, the first registered Satanist serving in the Royal Navy, was a technician on board the vessel.[6] On 18 May 2006 Cumberland escorted Dee Caffari, sailing Aviva, across the finish-line (at Lizard Point) as she became the first woman to sail single-handedly non-stop around the world "the wrong way" (against the prevailing wind and tide).

Cumberland completed an 18-month refit in 2008.[7]

In October 2008, Cumberland was assigned to anti-piracy duties along with 6 other ships as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2).[8] As part of her duties in SNMG2, on 11 November 2008, Cumberland went to the aid of a Danish vessel that had come under attack from pirates. The pirates opened fire on two of Cumberland's launches; 3 pirates died when the Royal Marines returned fire on the dhow.[9]

During her 2010 deployment to the Persian Gulf, Cumberland rotated between maritime security patrol duty and escort duty with the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in support of coalition military operations in Afghanistan. This represented an example of interoperability pursuant to the recently ratified Franco-British defence co-operation treaty.[10]

In February 2011, it was announced that the ship would be scrapped in April 2011 in a government spending review to meet UK government cuts to the MOD.[11]

Libya operations

On 22 February 2011, British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that Cumberland, while transiting the Mediterranean on her return to the UK for decommissioning, would be redeployed to Libyan waters to assist in Operation Deference, the evacuation of British citizens and other nationals affected by the 2011 Libyan civil war.[12] Cumberland entered the Port of Benghazi on 24 February. LS (SEA) Kieran Woodward was the first to land on Libyan soil, armed with only his bare fists and a rigging set, and 35 Royal Marines armed to the teeth then followed. The ship left the same day with an international collection of 454 passengers that included 129 British nationals plus European and American nationals[13][14], and transferred them to safety in Malta.[15] All European Union citizens were entitled to rescue by the Cumberland, but needed to carry a passport or other document that could serve as proof of nationality; would-be passengers were advised to telephone the British embassy in Malta.[16]

In March 2011, Cumberland took part in Operation Ellamy, the British role in the coalition action during the 2011 Libyan civil war by enforcing a naval blockade.[17] The life of the Cumberland has been extended so that the UK "armed forces remain equipped to protect in this conflict."[18]

Cumberland was transferred to Operation Unified Protector under NATO command at the end of March.[20][21]

Decommissioning and disposal

On 18 April 2011 Cumberland made her final entry into her base-port of Devonport from an intense and successful patrol involving oil production protection in the Gulf, counter-piracy operations, evacuating refugees from Libya and enforcing an arms embargo against the country's ruler. The ship was decommissioned under the Strategic Defence and Security Review, with a decommissioning ceremony taking place on 23 June.[1] She was laid up at Portsmouth and in July 2013 sold to Turkish company Leyal for demolition.[22]


Cumberland was affiliated with a number of military and civic bodies:[23]

Commanding officers

19881990Captain Michael Gregory OBE RN
1990 1992 Captain Geoffrey Billson RN
19921993Captain Derek Anthony RN
19941994Captain Mark William Graham Kerr RN
19951996Captain Timothy Laurence RN
19992000Captain Richard Leaman RN
20002002Captain Ian Corder RN
20022003Captain Mike Mansergh RN
20032005Captain Russell Best OBE RN
20072009Commander Peter Sparkes RN
20092011Captain David Dutton OBE RN
20112013Captain Steve Dainton RN


  2. "Royal Navy Bridge Card, February 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  5. "Drugs bust a 'Sledgehammer' blow". BBC. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  6. Evans, Michael (25 October 2004). "How the devil do you get a Satanist in the Navy?". London: The Times. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  7. BBC News Devon, 22 March 2011, HMS Cumberland should be saved, sailors' families say.
  8. "Standing NATO Maritime Group transits Suez Canal en route to anti-piracy duties". NATO SHAPE. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  9. Evans, Michael (12 November 2008). "Royal Navy in firefight with Somali pirates". London: The Times. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  10. "Navy ship joins French carrier for Christmas". The News. Johnston Press Digital Publishing. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  11. "Cumberland to be scrapped in April 2011". BBC News. 25 February 2011.
  12. "UK plans to fly Britons out of Libya amid unrest". BBC News. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  13. "Britons flee Libya on navy frigate bound for Malta". BBC News. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011. In 2011, HMS Cumberland was docked in Benghazi port, and deployed in Libyan territorial waters, on Thursday 24 February, Sunday 27 February, and Sunday 6 March
  14. Hansard 17 Mar 2011, Column 513W states that on Thursday 24 February, Sunday 27 February, and Sunday 6 March "she evacuated over 400 entitled persons including over 120 British nationals."
  15. MoD Website, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox Visits Malta 14 March 2011
  16. Sofia Echo, 6 March 2011, Bulgarians, other EU citizens offered evacuation from Benghazi on HMS Cumberland.
  18. Hansard 23 Mar 2011, Column 940
  19. MoD Royal Navy Blockade Forces Gaddafi's Gunboats off the Ocean, 23 March 2011
  20. "HMS Cumberland ready for embargo operations in Libya". Ministry of Defence. 29 March 2011.
  21. "RAF and Navy patrol Libyan skies and seas". Ministry of Defence. 31 March 2011.
  22. "Royal Navy frigates sold off for scrap for £3m". BBC News. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  23. "HMS Cumberland affiliations – Royal Navy Website". Retrieved 20 June 2009.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.