HMS Sirius (F40)

HMS Sirius (F40) was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy (RN) built by H.M. Dockyard Portsmouth, and was the penultimate RN warship to be built there for a period of forty years, until Vosper Thornycroft built HMS Clyde. Sirius was launched on 22 September 1964 and commissioned on 15 June 1966. The ship continued in front line service until February 1992.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Sirius
Builder: HMNB Portsmouth
Laid down: 9 August 1963
Launched: 22 September 1964
Commissioned: 15 June 1966
Decommissioned: 27 February 1993
Identification: F40
Motto: Heaven's light our guide
Fate: Sunk as target 1998
General characteristics
Class and type: Leander-class frigate
Displacement: 3,200 long tons (3,251 t) full load
Length: 113.4 m (372 ft)
Beam: 12.5 m (41 ft)
Draught: 5.8 m (19 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers supplying steam to two sets of White-English Electric double-reduction geared turbines to two shafts
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h)
Range: 4,600 nautical miles (8,500 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 223
Aircraft carried:


Sirius was one of three Leander-class frigates ordered in the Autumn of 1962 for the Royal Navy as part of the 1962–63 construction programme.[1] The ship was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on 9 August 1963, was launched on 22 September 1964 and was completed and commissionied on 15 June 1966.[2][3]

Sirius was 372 feet (113.4 m) long overall and 360 feet (109.7 m) at the waterline, with a beam of 41 feet (12.5 m) and a maximum draught of 18 feet (5.5 m). Displacement was 2,380 long tons (2,420 t) standard and 2,860 long tons (2,910 t) full load.[4] The ship was fitted with Y-136 machinery, built by J Samuel White.[5] Two oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers fed steam at 550 pounds per square inch (3,800 kPa) and 850 °F (454 °C) to a pair of double reduction geared steam turbines that in turn drove two propeller shafts, with the machinery rated at 30,000 shaft horsepower (22,000 kW), giving a speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph).[4]

A twin 4.5-inch (113 mm) Mark 6 gun mount was fitted forward. Anti-aircraft defence was provided by a quadruple Sea Cat surface-to-air missile launcher on the hangar roof, while two Oerlikon 20 mm cannon for close-in defence against surface targets. A Limbo anti-submarine mortar was fitted aft to provide a short-range anti-submarine capability, while a hangar and helicopter deck allowed a single Westland Wasp helicopter to be operated, for longer range anti-submarine and anti-surface operations.[6]

As built, Sirius was fitted with a large Type 965 long range air search radar on the ship's mainmast, with a Type 993 short range air/surface target indicating radar and Type 974 navigation radar carried on the ship's foremast. An MRS3 fire control system was carried over the ship's bridge to direct the 4.5-inch guns, while a GWS22 director for Seacat was mounted on the hangar roof.[7] The ship had a sonar suite of Type 177 or Type 182 search sonar, Type 162 bottom search and Type 170 attack sonar. While she had a well for a Type 199 Variable depth sonar (VDS), this was never fitted, and the well was soon plated over.[8]

Operational history

Following commissioning, Sirius joined the 24th Escort Squadron,[9] and took part in that year's Portsmouth Navy Day.[10] In January 1967 she undertook a Beira Patrol, which was designed to prevent oil reaching landlocked Rhodesia via the then Portuguese colony of Mozambique. Sirius subsequently deployed to the Far East and Pacific, which included a number of 'fly-the-flag' visits to a variety of ports. Sirius also took part in the Coronation of Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga. The following year, Sirius deployed to the West Indies.In 1968 she took part in Portsmouth 'Navy Days'.[11]

In April 1970, Sirius again deployed to the West Indies, where she would perform the role of guard ship in that region, relieving Mohawk.[12] On 1 August 1970, the ferry Chistena sank off St. Kitts, win the West Indies, Sirius assisted during the St. Kitts disaster, when a ferry sank, killing 233 people. Sirius took part in rescue operations, recovering bodies from the sea. Only 91 people survived the ferry sinking.[12][13][14] For the actions of her crew, Sirius was awarded the Wilkinson Sword of Peace. The West Indies Guardship deployment was eventually replaced by the Atlantic Patrol Task. In 1973, Sirius became guard ship to the West Indies once more, performing a variety of duties while there, including counter-drug operations.

In 1974, Sirius joined Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), a multi-national squadron of NATO, taking part in naval exercises in the process and visiting a variety of ports, and one of many deployments with NATO's multi-national squadrons. In 1975, Sirius began her modernisation which included the removal of her single 4.5-in twin gun in favour of the Exocet anti-ship missile system, as well as the amount of Sea Cat missiles she carried, increased. The modernisation was completed in October 1977. In 1978, Sirius became the leader of the 6th Frigate Squadron.

In September 1982, Sirius deployed to the Falkland Islands to perform a Falkland Islands patrol in the tense aftermath of the Falklands War. The following year, Sirius received the towed array sensor. In 1988, Sirius, as part of the group deployment Exercise 'Outback 88', deployed to the Far East and Pacific, attended Exercise Starfish with New Zealand, Australian, Malaysian and Singaporean naval units, and visited Australia for the 1988 bicentennial naval Salute, visiting a variety of ports in the process.

Sirius was paid off on 17 February 1992 and was stricken on 28 February 1993.[15] She was subsequently towed to Pembroke Dockyard in preparation for her to be sunk as a target. However, her sinking was delayed by environmentalist groups. In 1998, Sirius was finally sunk as a target in the Atlantic Ocean by the submarine Spartan. Her sinking left just one Leander, Scylla, afloat in the United Kingdom; Scylla was later sunk as an artificial reef on 27 March 2004.

Commanding officers

19661968Commander Derek Reffell RN
19681968Commander J N Humphrey-Baker RN
19781979Captain M L'E Tudor-Craig RN


  1. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, pp. 33, 109
  2. Marriott 1983, p. 92
  3. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, p. 109
  4. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, p. 111
  5. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, p. 112
  6. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, pp. 33–36
  7. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, pp. 33, 35–36
  8. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, pp. 33–34
  9. Osborne & Sowdon 1990, p. 41
  10. Programme, Navy Days at Portsmouth 27–29 August 1966, HMSO p.17
  11. Programme, Navy Days at Portsmouth August 31st-September 2nd 1968, p.19.
  12. Critchley 1992, p. 122
  13. "Disaster: 88 Bodies Recovered From Sea". The Canberra Times. 5 August 1970. p. 4. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  14. "Pastor urges public to cherish memories of those lost in MV Christena Disaster". St Kitts & Nevis Observer. 1 August 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  15. Baker 1998, p. 944


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  • Friedman, Norman (2008). British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War and After. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-015-4.
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  • Moore, John, ed. (1979). Jane's Fighting Ships 1979–1980. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00587-1.
  • Moore, John, ed. (1985). Jane's Fighting Ships 1985–1986. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-7106-0814-4.
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