Salisbury-class frigate

The Type 61 Salisbury class were a class of four British aircraft direction (AD) (or radar picket) frigates built for the Royal Navy in the 1950s.[2][3]

HMS Lincoln, 1972
Class overview
Name: Salisbury class
Succeeded by: Leander class
Built: 19521959
In commission:
  • 19571985 (British service)
  • 19782016 (Bangladesh service)
Planned: 7
Completed: 4
Cancelled: 3
Retired: 4
General characteristics
Type: 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)
  • 8 × Admiralty Standard Range ASR1 diesels, 14,400 shp (10,738 kW), 2 shafts
  • 220 tons fuel oil[1]
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 993n
  • Type 982 aircraft direction radar, later Type 986
  • Type 277Q height finding radar, later Type 278
  • Type 974 navigation radar, later Type 978
  • Type 285 fire control radar on director Mark 6M
  • Type 262 fire control on STAAG mount
  • Type 1010 Cossor Mark 10 IFF
  • Type 174 search sonar
  • Type 170 attack sonar


Originally conceived as part of the 1944 frigate project for common hull diesel-powered 2000 ton A/S, AW. AD project, by 1947 the legend of the Type 61 AD frigates and its sister Type 41 AW light destroyer were complete [4] with the design of new anti-submarine frigates delayed, due to Soviet orders for fast diesel Whiskey subs based on German T21/23 subs which led to revert to steam turbines for high speed for anti-submarine warships and the fact new, compact high power-efficient 30,000 hp steam tubines and the 62,000 hp steam turbines for the new Daring destroyers ( half the size of wartime Dido cruisers which also had 62,000 hp turbines, neither the AD Dido cruisers or Darings had the space to combine the processing of AW radar and communications with AA DP guns) was immensely difficult and the Type 12 anti-sub frigate legend was not completed till 1950 and is a steam version of the diesel Type 61.[5] The original steam Type 11 frigate concept was abandoned, in 1945 and never designed.[6] The Type 61 was the lead frigate and the first of the new generation frigates laid down in 1951, HMS Salisbury.[7] It was seen as much more important than the related to the Type 41 Leopard-class frigates, but with reduced armament (one twin 4.5 inch mount versus two) to make way for more aircraft direction equipment, particularly the four-ton radar antenna of the Type 965 (AKE-2). The aircraft direction and airwarning frigates tracked provided extra stations to the aircraft carriers in tracking incoming air attacks and directing and communicating with defensive RN and land based fighters in responding and in role played by AD cruisers directing, Sea Hawk ground attack and Canberra and Valiant type bombers, in 1956, Suez, Operation Musketeer strikes against land air bases and targets. Directing carrier based air interception and strike operations was far more important than the 'little cat' Type 41s or 'big cat', Tiger cruiser class guns.[8] In the mid 1950s the Royal Navy was largely operating small light fleet carriers and first generation jets which could takeoff from slow moving carriers. And even in 1960 a second fottilla of four extra Type 61 AD frigates was planned. Howevr by 1961-2 with the big carrier Ark Royal's problems finally debugged, and the new 984 3D radar, reconstructed small carriers, HMS Victorious and Hermes in effective service with second generation Vixens and Scimitars and the RN best carrier HMS Eagle being reconstructed only the four Battle-class AD conversions,were suitable as fast carrier pickets, the primary role of the Type 61 was not operations with fast carrier groups, for which their diesel power plant lacked the speed. In 1962 orders for extra T61 were finally cancelled, long after the second flotilla of T41 was abandoned in 1955-7, and a 2000-ton 'East Coast convoy' T42 frigate, a 25 knot, derivative of the T41/61 diesel hull with 3/N5 4 inch auto Vickers guns [9] with 2/4 MR3 DCT and L70 40mm (the T42 (1955) was a pocket RN diesel version of Chile's Vickers built Admiralte destroyers), was cancelled with th 1957 Sandys defence review. The role of the Type 61 was as a seaworthy air ocean surveillance ship and air control ship to escort slow task forces, such as amphibious task forces. In the 1960s the T61 were still seen as important units and there modernisation was much more substantial than that of the Type 41.[10] The election of another Labour Government in 1974 however threatened to bring the T61 service life to a premature end and Chichester was struck and Llandaff sold to Bangladesh, by the end of 1976. However the two Seacat missile fitted ships, had a life extension in 1976, due to the Cod War and, 200 mile, Law of the Sea, fishery zones resulting from the Icelandic conflict and the possibility of a new generation of diesel electric frigates, which resulted in the Type 23, HMS Lincoln being used to test certain hull characteristics and silencing of diesel electric engines, relative to passive sonar operation.

The primary aircraft direction equipment fitted to the Type 61s was initially the Type 960 radar for aircraft warning and Type 982M radar for a degree of 3D cover and better air control over land. The Type 960 radar was replaced by Type 965P at refit as follows:[11]

The Type 965 (AKE-2) had a large "double bedstead" antenna and the Type 982M radar had a smaller "hayrake" antenna. The Seacat missile system was fitted to Lincoln in a long refit from 1966–68 and in Salisbury from 1967-70. It was the same GWS 20 optically guided system being refitted at the time to the Rothesay-class frigates. Llandaff continued to carry the twin MK 5 Bofors until sold to Bangladesh. In the late 1960s Lincoln, Salisbury, Llandaff and the aircraft carriers Ark Royal and Bulwark were all refitted with the new Type 986 radar using the 982 antenna, as a partial substitute for the 984 3D radar capability lost with the phase out of the RN strike carriers. 986 radar was intended to partially replace one of the roles of 984 in giving more accurate, short range definition of closing air targets out to about 120 kilometres (75 mi), than 965 radar could provide. It was only a partial replacement as it lacked the 984 system's ability to rank and prioritise large numbers of targets for interrogation and air interception. The 965 twin array radar was limited and obsolete by the 1970s;[13] the 986 was a clearer radar with more than the minimal MTI, and capability for tracking air targets over land compared with the solid state 966 version of 965M. 986's usefulness was limited by the slow speed of the Salisbury-class ships. In 1973 Chichester was downgraded to a Hong Kong guardship with a reduced gun armament of twin 4.5; 1-40mm and 2-20mm and air surveillance radars removed and HMS Lincoln was seriously damaged in the second cod war. In 1974 the new Labour Government made a policy decision, that only anti-submarine frigates would be operational in the frigate fleet from then on. Therefore, for the rest of the decade Salisbury and Lincoln alternated between the standby squadron and lengthy re-activations, under a number of pretexts, HMS Salisbury, under the first Frigate command of Hugo White, later Admiral of the Fleet, was rescued from years of decline, on detached guardship duty, for Gibraltar or the West Indies, to be extensively involved in the third cod war with controlled aggression holding the line against Icelandic gunboats getting within, 3 miles of multinational fishing fleets, colliding 7 times with the Iceland gunboats, Tyr and Aegir in March- April 1976.[14] Following serious damage to RN frigates in the increasingly real Cod War, HMS Lincoln was repaired and returned to service, until the end of the decade, after refits, to return it the status of an operational RN frigate, declared to NATO, in apparently the most difficult work, done by Chatham dockyard, in the 1970s.

Construction programme

Pennant Name Builder Ordered Laid Down Launched Accepted into service[15] Commissioned Estimated building cost[16] Fate
F32 Salisbury (a) HM Dockyard, Devonport
(b) Vickers Armstrong (Engineers) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness [17]
21 August 1951 [18] 23 January 1952 [19] 25 June 1953 [19] 27 February 1957 [17] 27 February 1957 [19] £2,900,000 [17] Sale to Egypt cancelled 1978 whilst on delivery trip. May 1980 harbour training ship Devonport. Sunk as target 30 September 1985.[19][20]
F59 Chichester (a) The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd, Govan, Glasgow
(b) British Polar Engines Ltd, Glasgow [21]
28 June 1951 [18] 26 June 1953 [19] 21 June 1955 [19] May 1958 [21] 16 May 1958 [19] £3,291,000 [21] Converted to harbour guardship Hong Kong 1973; sold for breaking up 17 March 1981.[19][20]
F61 Llandaff (a) R & W Hawthorn Leslie and Co Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne
(b) British Polar Engines Ltd, Glasgow [21]
28 June 1951 [18] 27 August 1953 [19] 30 November 1955 [19] April 1958 [21] 11 April 1958 [19] £3,393,000 [21] To Bangladesh 10 December 1978 as Umar Farooq.[19][22] Wrongly claimed sold for breaking up in April 1983.[20] Not scrapped, still in active service.[23] Finally beached for breaking at Chittagong on 19. November 2016.[24]
F99 Lincoln (a) The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd, Govan, Glasgow
(b) Cammell Laird and Co (Shipbuilders and Engineers) Ltd, Birkenhead [25]
28 June 1951 [18] 1 June 1955 [19] 6 April 1959 [19] July 1960 [25] 7 July 1960 [19] £3,685,000 [25] Sale to Egypt in 1978 cancelled. August 1979 recommissioned briefly as submarine target.[20] Intended to be sold to Bangladesh in 1982,[19] though this transfer did not take place.[22] Broken up 1983.[20]

Three further ships of the class were planned. Two of these, intended as Exeter and Gloucester, were cancelled under the 1957 Defence Review, while a third, Coventry, was suspended. It was hoped to order Coventry in 1961, but in the event it was decided to order the planned hull as a Leander-class frigate that became HMS Penelope.[19]


  1. Gardiner, p. 157
  2. Purvis,M.K., 'Post War RN Frigate and Guided Missile Destroyer Design 1944-1969', Transactions, Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), 1974
  3. Marriott,Leo, 'Royal Navy Frigates Since 1945', Second Edition, ISBN 0-7110-1915-0, Published by Ian Allan Ltd (Surrey, UK), 1990
  4. D.K Brown and G.Moore. Redesigning the RN. Post WW2. Seaforth. Barnsely. 2012.
  5. R. Gardiner. Conways All the Worlds Fighting Ships. Pt 1 western Powers. London (1983) pp 152-3,157-9 & 161-62
  6. A. Preston in R. Gardiner (ed) Conways All the Worlds Fighting Ships. Pt 1. Western powers. Conway Maritime. London. 1983, p157, 159
  7. H.T.Lenton British Commonwealth Warships. Ian Allen. London (1966 & 1971) & J.E.Moore. British Warships. Janes. London (1979 & 1981)
  8. A. Preston in R. Gardiner (ed) Conways All the World Fighting Ships 1947-82. Pt 1.London(1983),p 162
  9. Gardiner & Preston. Conways Fighting Ships 1947-1982. Pt 1. Western Powers. Conway Maritime. London. 1983, p 159.
  10. A.Preston in R.Gardiner(ed). Conways All the Worlds Fighting Ships. London. 1983, p 161.
  11. Friedman, Norman (2008), British Destroyers & Frigates, the Second World War and After (2 ed.), Seaforth Publishing, p. 203, ISBN 978-1848320154
  12. Blackman, Raymond V B, ed. (1966), Jane's Fighting Ships 1966-67, Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd, p. 296
  13. N. Freidman. British Destroyers & Frigates. The Second World War & After. Chatham Publishing, UK (2006), p162.
  14. Hugo White Obituary,The Times. London, 7-6-2014 & Independent.London 10-6-2014, retrieved 10-9-2019 1.30 GMT ,
  15. The term used in Navy Estimates and Defence Estimates is "accepted into service". Hansard has used the term acceptance date. Leo Marriott in his various books uses the term "completed", as does Jane's Fighting Ships. These terms all mean the same thing: the date the Navy accepts the vessel from the builder. This date is important because maintenance cycles, etc. are generally calculated from the acceptance date.
  16. "Unit cost, i.e. excluding cost of certain items (e.g. aircraft, First Outfits)."
    Text from Defences Estimates
  17. Navy Estimates, 1957-58, pages 234-5, List and particulars of new ships which have been accepted or are expected to be accepted into HM service during the Financial Year ended 31 March 1957
  18. Moore, George, The dawn of the Salisbury, Leopard and Whitby class frigates in Warship, 2004, pub Conways, 2004, ISBN 0-85177-948-4 page 134.
  19. Gardiner, Robert Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995, pub Conway Maritime Press, 1995, ISBN 0-85177-605-1 page 517.
    Note that this page of Conway's appears to contains errors concerning the fate of ships. Where either pages 23 of Conway's or Norman Friedman's book contradict page 517 of Conway's, about the fate of vessels of the Salisbury class, then page 517 has been assumed to be less reliable.
  20. Friedman, Norman British Destroyers and Frigates, the Second World War and After, Chatham. London, 2006, ISBN 978-1-84832-015-4 page 338.
  21. Navy Estimates, 1959-60, pages 230-1, List and particulars of new ships which have been accepted or are expected to be accepted into HM service during the Financial Year ended 31 March 1959
  22. Gardiner, Robert Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995, pub Conway Maritime Press, 1995, ISBN 0-85177-605-1 page 23.
  23. Deccan Chronicle, Bangladesh Navy ship docks in city, 19 December 2010
  24. GMS Weekly, 2 December 2016 Volume 172, Issue 751, Week 49
  25. Navy Estimates, 1961-62, pages 220-51, List and particulars of new ships which have been accepted or are expected to be accepted into HM service during the Financial Year ended 31 March 1961


  • Purvis,M.K., 'Post War RN Frigate and Guided Missile Destroyer Design 1944-1969', Transactions, Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), 1974
  • Marriott,Leo, 'Royal Navy Frigates Since 1945', Second Edition, ISBN 0-7110-1915-0, Published by Ian Allan Ltd (Surrey, UK), 1990
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.

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