HMS Zulu (F124)

HMS Zulu was a Tribal-class frigate of the Royal Navy in service from 1964 to 1984. She was the third ship bearing the name of HMS Zulu, having been named after an ethnic group located primarily in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. Zulu was built by Alexander Stephen and Sons, of Govan, at a cost of £5,100,000.[2] She was launched on 3 July 1962 and commissioned on 17 April 1964.[3] Zulu was the only Tribal built with Seacat missiles; her six sister frigates were built with two 40 mm Bofors guns and fitted with the Seacat system during later refits.

HMS Zulu
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Zulu
Builder: Alexander Stephen and Sons, Govan
Laid down: 13 December 1960
Launched: 3 July 1962
Commissioned: 17 April 1964
Decommissioned: 1984
Identification: Pennant number F124
Fate: Sold to Indonesia
Name: KRI Martha Khristina Tiyahahu
Commissioned: 1984
Identification: 331
Fate: Decommissioned; awaiting disposal
General characteristics
Class and type: Tribal-class frigate
  • 2,300 long tons (2,300 t) standard
  • 2,700 long tons (2,700 t) full load
  • 360 ft 0 in (109.73 m) oa
  • 350 ft 0 in (106.68 m) pp
Beam: 42 ft 3 in (12.88 m)
  • 13 ft 3 in (4.04 m)
  • 17 ft 6 in (5.33 m) (propellers)[1]
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) (COSAG)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 253
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Radar type 965 air-search
  • Radar type 993 low-angle search
  • Radar type 978 navigation
  • Radar type 903 gunnery fire-control
  • Radar type 262 GWS-21 fire-control
  • Sonar type 177 search
  • Sonar type 170 attack
  • Sonar type 162 bottom profiling
  • Ashanti and Gurkha;
  • Sonar type 199 variable-depth
Aircraft carried: 1 × Westland Wasp helicopter

She was sold to the Indonesian Navy in 1984 and renamed Martha Khristina Tiyahahu.

Royal Navy Service

In 1966, Zulu contributed to the Beira Patrol off the coast of East Africa, assisting in the enforcement of an oil blockade on Rhodesia.[4][5]

During 1967 she was commanded by the future Admiral of the Fleet William Staveley.

In 1972, a United States Navy P-3 Orion aircraft crashed on a mountain in northern Morocco with the loss of 14 crew. Zulu's Westland Wasp helicopter was sent to the wreckage site, where five bodies were found. In 1974, Zulu deployed to the West Indies. When Guatemala threatened to annex Belize in 1975, Zulu steamed to the area from an American port to augment British forces. Such was the urgency that Zulu left 20 sailors behind.[6]

In 1977, Zulu was presented at the Spithead Fleet Review, held in honour of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. At this time she was part of the 4th Frigate Squadron.[7] Later that year, Zulu formed part of the eight-ship Group 6 deployment, led by the cruiser Tiger, on naval exercises in the Far East.

Manpower shortages in the Royal Navy necessitated Zulu being reduced to reserve in 1979, as part of the Standby Squadron.[8][9] She was placed on the disposal list in 1981.[9] During the Falklands War, Zulu was taken out of reserve and prepared for active service.[10] She operated in home waters and as the West Indies Guard Ship.

In November 1983 Zulu became the Gibraltar Guardship.[11] Before decommissioning on 30 March 1984, Zulu, as the last ship in commission with more than one gun turret, fired the Royal Navy's last "full" broadside.[12]

Indonesian Navy Service

Indonesia bought Zulu in 1984, renaming the frigate Martha Kristina Tiyahahu,[13] in honour of Martha Christina Tiahahu, who fought against Dutch colonial forces. The frigate was struck from the Indonesian Naval Vessel Register and currently awaits scrapping.


  1. Blackman 1971, p. 356.
  2. "Five Frigates, Two Submarines Cost £29,400,000". The Times (56271): Col F, p. 4. 16 March 1965.
  3. Gardiner, Robert & Chesneau, Roger (1995), p. 518.
  4. "British frigate halts tanker". The Times (56742): Col F, p. 1. 21 September 1966.
  5. "Warship breakdown off Mombasa". The Times (56829); Col D, p. 1. 3 January 1967.
  6. "Britain flies troops to threatened Belize". The Times (59546): Col D, p. 1. 6 November 1975.
  7. Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  8. Hansard (28 June 1979), Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  9. Hansard (26 April 1982), Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  10. Hansard (27 May 1982), Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  11. Critchley 1992, p. 112.
  12. "Zulu fires the last broadside". Navy News. April 1984. p. 2.
  13. Colledge, J. J. & Warlow, Ben (2010), p. 460


  • Blackman, Raymond V. B., ed. (1971). Jane's Fighting Ships 1971–72. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd. ISBN 0-354-00096-9.
  • Colledge, J. J. & Warlow, Ben (2010) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (4th Rev. ed.). London: Chatham. ISBN 978-1-935149-07-1.
  • Critchley, Mike (1992). British Warships Since 1945: Part 5: Frigates. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Press. ISBN 0-907771-13-0.
  • Gardiner, Robert & Chesneau, Roger (1995), Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1947-1995, Conway Maritime Press, London, ISBN 978-0-8517-7605-7.
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