Royal Navy Ship Profiles

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The Royal Navy's surface ships are unique. They are designed to carry out a full spectrum of missions from littoral patrolling to participating in a three-dimensional fleet action. These designs are influenced by political considerations, mission, economic considerations, technology, and the traditions of the Royal Navy.


Queen Elizabeth class Aircraft Carrier

These carriers, known during the design phase as CVA-01 are the Royal Navy's primary conventional striking power (the RN's main striking power is of course the four Vanguard class with Trident missiles). The carriers were built with Sea Dart, but the Sea Dart launcher was removed in 1983 in favour of three Phalanx. The air group for each of the three carriers is as follows:

  • 18 Grumman Tomcat FRS.2
  • 18 Boeing/BAe Hornet
  • 4 Northrop Grumman Hawkeye AEW.2
  • 6 Lockheed Viking AS.1
  • 2 Lockheed Viking COD.2
  • 2 Lockheed Viking R.3 (occasionally)
  • 6 AgustaWestland Cormorant HM.1

Queen Elizabeth class Aircraft Carrier (present day)
Queen Elizabeth class Aircraft Carrier (1973)

Invincible class Aircraft Carrier

Invincible class aircraft carriers embark the following air group:

  • 6 BAe Sea Harrier FGR.2
  • 6 AgustaWestland Cormorant HM.1
  • 4 Westland Sea King AEW.7

To bolster aircraft numbers, RAF Harriers are occasionally embarked (depicted below).


Crown Colony class Nuclear Guided Missile Cruiser

The Crown Colony class cruisers are the Royal Navy's most powerful surface units. The ship is of entirely British design. The armament is as follows:

  • 1 115mm Mark 8 gun
  • 2 Sea Dart lauchers (66 missiles)
  • 2 Sea Wolf (4-round lightweight) launchers
  • 6 MM-38 Exocet missiles
  • 2 Ikara launchers (60 missiles)


Town class Guided Missile Cruiser

The Town class cruisers are based on the Type 82 destroyer.

  • 1 115mm Mark 8 gun
  • 2 20mm Phalanx
  • 2 Sea Wolf (4-round lightweight) launchers
  • 1 Sea Dart lauchers (33 missiles)
  • 8 MM-38 Exocet missiles
  • 1 Ikara launcher (32 missiles)


Type 45 Guided Missile Destroyer

The Type 45 is the RN's latest guided missile destroyer. They are intended to replace the 35 year old Type 42 destroyer (or Sheffield class), and the 25 year old Type 43 destroyer (or Conventry class). The Royal Navy originally intended to procure the Horizon class destroyer in a joint project with France, however Britain wanted an area defence air warfare destroyer, while the Marine Nationale de France wanted a close-range goal keeper to escort its carriers. On this point, and the British insistance that a British shipyard lead the program, cooperation over Horizon broke down. The Type 45 was an attempt to leverage as much technology developed for Horizon as possible, adapted to Royal Navy requirements. Later due to cost overruns, the British Government decided that PAAMS would be dropped, and AEGIS with Standard substituted. The ships thus produced, the Type 45, or Daring class are among the most capable surface combatants in the world. The incorporate stealth technology to reduce radar, acoustic, and infra-red signatures. They use a gas-turbine/electric drive for long range, high speed, and quiet operation, vital for anti-submarine warfare. The primary weapon system of the Daring class is British AEGIS. British AEGIS consists of the following:

  • AN/SPY-1 air surveillance radar
  • S1850M air surveillance radar
  • 3 AN/SPG-62 fire control radars
  • Standard missile system
  • Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile system
  • 80-cell Mark 41 Strike Length vertical missile launcher

Unlike traditional ships, the Type 45 ships are built in blocks, in shipyards all over the UK. They are then assembled on the Clyde. The ships are equipped with a towed array sonar, full meteorological and oceanographic equipment, and the ships have enough space for 60 Royal Marines and their equipment, together with RHIBs to transport them.

The Type 45 destroyers carry the following weapons:

  • Mark 8 mod 1 115mm gun
  • 2 30mm Oerlikon GCM-AO in DS-30 mounts
  • 3 20mm Phalanx CIWS
  • 80 cell Mk-41 Strike Length vertical launch system
    • Raytheon RIM-174 Standard ERAM
    • Raytheon RIM-161 SM-3
    • Raytheon RIM-156 SM-2ER Block IV
    • Raytheon RIM-66M SM-2MR Block III
    • Raytheon RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile
    • RGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM Block IV) cruise missile
  • 16 Harpoon missiles
  • 2 triple 324mm torpedo tubes for Sting Ray torpedos

The Type 45s are among the most heavily armed surface ships to serve with the Royal Navy.

Type 43 Guided Missile Destroyer

The Type 43 destroyer was proposed to replace the Type 42. The program started in early 1970s. The Type 42 was perceived as being too small, and too vulnerable. The Falklands War showed just how vulnerable the Type 42s were, with their lack of close in weapons (except for 20mm Oerlikon guns that would not have been out of place in World War II). The short hull of the Batch 1 and Batch 2 contributed to the RN's dislike of the Type 42 as the class had poor sea keeping characteristics. They also had no anti-ship weapons apart from a 115mm gun, and the Sea Skua missiles carried by the Lynx. The Type 42 Batch 3 destroyers solved some of these problems by adding Harpoon, vertical launch Sea Wolf, and lengthening the hull, however the class was still perceived as too small.

The Type 43 destroyer was intended to fix those flaws but was never built as they were seen as too costly. They were to be powerful general purpose escorts, with extensive ASW, AAW, and ASuW capabilities. Controversially, they were to have a centre helicopter deck (where ship's motion was lowest) but where the aft superstructure could prevent a last minute landing abort aftwards. It was planned to carry two Lynx helicopters (against the Type 42's single Lynx), and have the following weapons:

  • 1 115mm Mark 8 gun
  • 2 Sea Dart lauchers (44 missiles)
  • 2 Sea Wolf (6-round) launchers
  • 2 20mm Oerlikon GAM-BO1
  • 8 Harpoon missiles
  • 2 triple 324mm torpedo tubes for Sting Ray torpedos


Type 42 Guided Missile Destroyer

The Type 42 destroyer was intended to be a more cost effective alternative to the Type 82 destroyer. The primary role of the ship was to carry the Sea Dart system. They were also fitted with 4.5 inch guns, and 2 triple torpedo tubes. Sixteen ships were built, 14 for the Royal Navy, and 2 for the Armada Republica Argentina. Of these, 12 continue to serve with the Royal Navy, and one with the ARA. Two British ships were lost in the Falklands War, and one Argentine ship has been retired and used as a spare parts hulk to support the other ship (which is now used as a transport, and can no longer fire Sea Dart). The ships were shortened during the design process leaving little room for anything beyond the gun, Sea Dart, Lynx helicopter, and torpedo tubes. The ships were criticised for their poor sea keeping qualities, and lack of close in weapons. This gap in capability led to the loss of HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry in the Falklands War. The Batch 3 class came with extended length in 1980, and four of these ships were built before the RN switched to the Type 43 destroyer.

The batch 2 ships carry the following weapons:

  • 1 115mm Mark 8 gun
  • 1 Sea Dart laucher (22 missiles)
  • 2 20mm Phalanx
  • 2 20mm Oerlikon GAM-BO1
  • 2 triple 324mm torpedo tubes for Sting Ray torpedos

The Batch 3 ships carry the following weapons:

  • 1 115mm Mark 8 gun
  • 1 Sea Dart laucher (22 missiles)
  • 2 Lightweight-Sea Wolf system (32 missiles)
  • 8 Harpoon missiles
  • 1 20mm Phalanx
  • 2 20mm Oerlikon GAM-BO1
  • 2 triple 324mm torpedo tubes for Sting Ray torpedos

Type 42 (Batch 3) destroyer
Type 42 (Batch 2) destroyer

Type 23 Frigate


Type 22 Frigate

Type 22 (Batch 3 - Cornwall) frigate
Type 22 (Batch 2 - Boxer) frigate
Type 22 (Batch 1 - Broadsword) frigate

Vanguard class Ballistic Missile Submarine


Astute class Submarine


Trafalgar class Submarine


Upholder class Submarine


Ocean class Landing Platform Helicopter


Bay class Landing Ships Dock


Sandown-class Mine Countermeasures Vessel


Hunt-class Mine Countermeasures Vessel


River-class Patrol Vessel


HMS Victory


Peacock class Patrol Vessel


Wave-class fast Fleet Tanker


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