HMS Salisbury (F32)

HMS Salisbury was a Salisbury-class or Type 61 aircraft direction frigate of the British Royal Navy. Completed in the late 1950s, Salisbury served through the 1960s and 1970s, participating in the Beira Patrol, blockading against Rhodesia and the confrontation with Iceland over fishing rights that was known as the Cod Wars. Salisbury became a harbour training ship in 1980, before being sunk as a target in 1985.

HMS Salisbury in 1976
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Salisbury
Builder: Devonport Dockyard
Laid down: 23 January 1952
Launched: 25 June 1953
Completed: 27 February 1957
Identification: Pennant number F32
Fate: Sunk as a target 30 September 1985[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Salisbury-class frigate
  • 2,170 tons standard
  • 2,400 tons full load
Length: 340 ft (100 m) o/a
Beam: 40 ft (12 m)
Draught: 15 ft 6 in (4.72 m)
Propulsion: 8 × ASR1 diesels, 12,400 shp (9,200 kW), 2 shafts
Speed: 24 kn (44 km/h)
Range: 7,500 nmi (13,900 km) at 16 kn (30 km/h)
Complement: 235
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Type 960 air search radar, later Type 965 AKE-2
  • Type 293Q target indication radar, later Type 993 and Antenna AKD
  • Type 982 aircraft direction radar, laterType 986 and Antenna AKR
  • Type 277Q height finding radar, later Type 278 and Antenna ANU(3)
  • Type 974 navigation radarlater Type 978 and Antenna ATZ
  • Type 275 fire control radar on director Mark 6M
  • Type 262 fire control on STAAG mount
  • Type 944/954 later Type 1010/1011 Cossor Mark 10 IFF
  • Type 174 search sonar
  • Type 170 attack sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Service record

Design and construction

The ship was built at Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth as the lead ship of the class. Salisbury was laid down on 23 January 1952, launched on 25 June 1953, and completed on 27 February 1957.[1]

The Type 61 class were aircraft direction frigates, fitted with a sophisticated battery of radar equipment which was intended to provide guidance to carrier and shore-based aircraft against aerial targets. They shared a common hull design with the Leopard-class frigates, and like the Leopards, were powered by eight Admiralty Standard Range diesel engines driving two shafts, giving a total of 14,400 shaft horsepower (10,700 kW) and propelling the ship to a speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph).[1][2]

Operational history

In 1959 Salisbury visited Cleveland, Ohio and was first RN warship on Lake Erie since 1812.[3] At that time she was part of the 5th Frigate Squadron, serving in home waters, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East until August 1961.[4] From 1961 to 1962 she was modernised with an improved radar suite, with Type 965 long-range radar fitted on a plated in Mack aft, replacing the previous Type 960 radar, and with the Type 293 target designation radar moved forward to a new foremast, while improved ESM equipment was also fitted.[4][5]

Following her refit, Salisbury again served in home waters and in the Far East.[4] On 25 June 1964, she sustained a collision with the destroyer Diamond in the English Channel while returning from exercise.[4] After repairing, the frigate attended the opening of Forth Road Bridge by Queen Elizabeth II. Salisbury sailed to the Far East where she took part in the Borneo Insurgency in 1963. The vessel's primary role was to ferry Gurkhas into the war zone and supplying manpower to patrol rivers in the ship's boats. Salisbury also patrolled off the coast of East Africa on the Socotra patrols. The frigate found both propellers split and was sent to a floating dock at Singapore for 30 days to fix. In 1967 she stood by during disturbances in the West Indies, being tasked to ferry the local police from St. Kitts and Nevis to the island of Anguilla where there was unrest. In the event the police forces failed to materialise and the ship landed her IS Platoon to restore order. Whilst returning from the West Indies she sank the abandoned German tanker Essberger Chemist which was still afloat following an unsuccessful attempt by the nuclear submarine Dreadnought.[6]

During 1967–70 Salisbury again underwent a major modernisation, with a launcher for Sea Cat surface-to-air missiles replacing the twin Bofors 40 mm gun mount aft.[1][4][7] In 1975 she completed the last Beira Patrol. She undertook Cod War patrols in 1976 and was slightly damaged in a collision with the Icelandic gunboat Týr on 1 April 1976, and was involved in two collisions with Ægir on 20 May 1976.[4]

In 1977 Salisbury was part of the 1st Frigate Squadron and took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.[8] In 1978 the frigate sailed to the Mediterranean Sea during negotiations for her sale to Egypt, but eventually returned to UK, the sale having fallen through.[4][7] It appears that Salisbury was returned by Egypt, and not assigned to the stand by squadron with Lincoln, because immediately prior to the transfer the below-deck electronics for the 982 radar, updated to 985/6 with solid state and MTI, was removed, as with Llandaff prior to transfer to Bangladesh.[9]

From 1980–85 she was a harbour training ship at Devonport, before being replaced in that role by the frigate Ajax. On 30 September 1985, Salisbury was towed out and sunk as a target.

Commanding officers

19561958Commander W A E Hall RN
19571959Commander A G Watson RN
19591961+Commander J K Stevens RN
1963Commander W Fitzherbert RN
19641966Commander R D Johnston RN
19731975Commander F N Ponsonby RN
19751977Commander Hugo White RN
19771977Commander J T Saunders RN


  1. Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p. 517.
  2. Blackman 1971, p. 358.
  3. Mason, Geoffrey B. (2007). "Chronology, Part 2 – 1951–60". Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  4. Critchley 1986, p. 81.
  5. Marriott 1983, pp. 47, 50.
  6. Mason, Geoffrey B. (2007). "Royal Navy post-World War 2: Chronology, Part 3 – 1961–70". Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  7. Marriott 1983, p. 50.
  8. Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  9. N. Friedman. Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems 1987/8, p.273


  • Blackman, Raymond V. B., ed. (1971). Jane's Fighting Ships 1971–72. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. ISBN 0-354-00096-9.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Critchley, Mike (1986). British Warships Since 1945: Part 5: Frigates. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Books. ISBN 0-907771-13-0.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Marriott, Leo (1983). Royal Navy Frigates 1945–1983. Shepperton, UK: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1322-5.
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