HMS Hecla (A133)

HMS Hecla was the lead ship of the Hecla class, an oceangoing survey ship type in the Royal Navy. She was ordered in the mid-1960s, along with her sister ships HMS Hecate and HMS Hydra. A fourth ship, HMS Herald, was completed in the early 1970s. The ship served for thirty years in this role, and various others, before finally being replaced by HMS Scott in 1997. Hecla was sold to private interests, being renamed "Bligh" after Vice-Admiral William Bligh. After this, the vessel was used in a hydrographic survey of Irish waters, and was based in Waterford, Ireland.

Hecla at HM Naval Base Gibraltar, during conversion to a Hospital Ship for use during the Falklands War
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hecla (A133)
Builder: Blythswood
Laid down: 6 May 1964
Launched: 21 December 1964
Completed: 24 August 1965
Commissioned: 1964
Identification: IMO number: 4902426
Fate: Sold 1997
General characteristics
Displacement: 2,800 tons full load
Length: 79 m (259 ft 2 in)
Beam: 15.4 m (50 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
Propulsion: 3 × Paxman Ventura V-12 diesel engines
  • 11 kn (20 km/h) cruise
  • 14 kn (26 km/h) maximum
Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km) at 11 kn (20 km/h)
Complement: 121
Aircraft carried: 1 × Westland Wasp light helicopter
Service record
Operations: Falklands War

Design and construction

The Hecla-class were designed as combined hydrographic and oceanagraphic survey ships, built to merchant ship standards and of similar design to RRS Discovery.[1] She was laid down at Yarrow Shipbuilders' Blythswood, Glasgow shipyard on 6 May 1964, was launched on 21 December 1964 and entered service on 9 September 1965. She had the Pennant number A133.[2]

Hecla was 260 feet 2 inches (79.3 m) long, with a beam of 49 feet 3 inches (15.0 m) and a draught of 15 feet 5 inches (4.7 m). Displacement was 1,915 long tons (1,946 t) light and 2,733 long tons (2,777 t) full load, with a Gross tonnage of 2898.[1] She had diesel-electric propulsion, with three Paxman Ventura 12-cylinder diesel engines rated at 1,280 brake horsepower (950 kW) powering two electric motors, rated at a total of 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW) and driving one propeller shaft, giving a speed of 14 knots (16 mph; 26 km/h). She had a range of 12,000 nautical miles (14,000 mi; 22,000 km) at a speed of 11 knots (13 mph; 20 km/h) and 20,000 nautical miles (23,000 mi; 37,000 km) at 9 knots (10 mph; 17 km/h).[3] The ship had a complement of 127 officers and other ranks.[1] She was fitted with a hangar and helideck aft to allow operation of a single Westland Wasp helicopter, while two surveying launches were carried.[1][3]


In 1982, Hecla was used as an ambulance ship for the duration of the Falklands War. In this role, she ferried wounded from both sides to the main hospital ship, SS Uganda.


  • Couhat, Jean Laybayle; Baker, A. D., eds. (1986). Combat Fleets of the World 1986/87: Their Ships, Aircraft and Armament. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85368-860-5.
  • Moore, John, ed. (1979). Jane's Fighting Ships 1979–80. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00587-1.
  • Lenton, H.T. (1966). Warhips of the British and Commonwealth Navies. London: Ian Allan.

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