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Daring-class destroyer (1949)
The Australian Daring class destroyer HMAS Vampire on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum
Class overview
Name: Daring
Operators: Royal Navy (RN)
Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
Peruvian Navy (MGP)
Preceded by: Battle-class destroyer
Succeeded by: County-class destroyer (RN)
Perth-class destroyer (RAN)
Built: 1949-1959
In commission: 1952-2007
Planned: 16 (RN)
4 (RAN)
Completed: 8 (RN)
3 (RAN)
Cancelled: 8 (RN)
1 (RAN)
Lost: 1, Voyager
Preserved: 1, Vampire
General characteristics For RN vessels
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: Standard: 2,830 tons, Full load: 3,820 tons
Length: 390 ft (120 m)
Beam: 43 ft (13 m)
Draught: 12.75 ft (3.89 m)
Propulsion: 2 Foster Wheeler boilers 650 psi (4.5 MPa), 850 °F (454 °C), Parsons steam turbines (English Electric in RAN ships), 2 shafts, 54,000 shp (40 MW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,400 nautical miles (8,100 km; 5,100 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 297
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar Type 293Q target indication
Radar Type 291 air warning
Radar Type 274 navigation
Radar Type 275 fire control on director Mk.VI
Radar Type 262 fire control on director CRBF and STAAG Mk.II

6 x QF 4.5 inch /45 (113 mm) Mark V guns in 3 twin mountings UD Mark VI
4 x 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 2 twin mounts STAAG Mk.II
2 x 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 1 twin mount Mk.V
2 x pentad tubes for 21-inch (530 mm) torpedoes Mk.IX

1 x Squid A/S mortar

The Daring class was a class of eleven destroyers built for the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Constructed after World War II, and entering service during the 1950s, eight ships were constructed for the RN, and three ships for the RAN. Two of the RN destroyers were subsequently sold to and served in the Peruvian Navy (MGP). A further eight ships were planned for the RN but were cancelled before construction commenced, while a fourth RAN vessel was begun but was cancelled before launch and broken up on the slipway.

The Daring-class ships were both the largest and most heavily armed ships serving in Commonwealth navies to be classified as destroyers. They were also the last destroyers of the RN and RAN to possess guns as their main armament (instead of guided missiles), which saw use during the Indonesian Confrontation and the Vietnam War.

The Daring-class destroyers were in service in the RN and RAN from the 1950s to the 1980s. Following decommissioning, two RN Darings were sold to the MGP, which operated one ship until 1993 and the other until 2007. One ship of the class is preserved: HMAS Vampire as a museum ship at the Australian National Maritime Museum.


A line drawing of the Daring-class destroyer

The Darings were the largest destroyers then built (1949) for the RN,[1] having a displacement of 3,820 tonnes, a length of 390 feet (120 m), a beam of 43 feet (13 m), and a draught of 12.75 feet (3.89 m).[2]

The Darings were the last conventional gun destroyers of the RN, and were armed with the QF 4.5 inch /45 (113 mm) Mark V gun in three double mounts UD Mk.VI (later renamed simply Mark N6). The main armament was controlled by a director Mark VI fitted with Radar Type 275 on the bridge and a director CRBF (close range blind fire) aft with Radar Type 262 providing local control for 'X' turret on aft arcs. Remote Power Control (RPC) was provided for the main armament. Darings were capable of a rate of fire of 16 rounds per minute per gun, or about 100 rounds per minute overall.[3]

Forward half of Vampire, showing the two forward turrets for the 4.5-inch Mark V guns, and a single 40 mm Bofors

They were designed to ship three twin 40 mm /60 Bofors mounts STAAG Mark II, but the midships one was later replaced by the lighter and more reliable twin Mount Mark V. This meant that the Darings could engage two targets at long range and two at close range under fully automatic radar directed-control, an enormous improvement over their predecessors. Two of the Australian Darings were instead fitted with two twin and two single Bofors mounts. Radar Type 293 was carried on the foremast for target indication.

Like the earlier Weapon class, the Darings had their machinery arranged on the 'unit' principle, where boiler rooms and engine rooms alternated to increase survivability. The boilers utilised pressures and temperatures (650 psi, 850 °F) hitherto unheard of in the conservative Royal Navy, allowing great savings in weight and efficiency to be made. The wide spacing of the boilers resulted in widely spaced funnels. The forward funnel was trunked up through the lattice foremast (referred to as a mack) with the after funnel a stump amidships. Neither was provided with a casing, resulting in a curious, rather unappealing appearance, although the utility of the funnels was considered by some to enhance the overall appearance. Attempts were made to improve the appearance by adding a streamline case to the funnel, but this was later removed. Of note was a new design of bridge, breaking with a lineage going back to the H-class destroyer of 1936. 3/8-inch armour plating was added to the turrets, the bridge and the fire control cable runs.



The Royal Navy ships were built in two groups, one with the traditional DC electrical system (Daring, Dainty, Defender and Delight) and the remaining ships (Decoy, Diamond, Diana and Duchess),with a modern AC system. They were known as the 2nd and 5th Destroyer Squadrons, respectively.

Two of the ships, Danae and Delight, were originally part of the Battle class, though only Delight (originallyYpres, then Disdain, before finally being renamed Delight) was commissioned. They were to have been of all-welded construction, but Daring, Decoy, and Diana were built with a composite of welding and riveting.


The Royal Australian Navy initially ordered four Daring-class destroyers, which were to be named after the ships of the "Scrap Iron Flotilla" of World War II. The ships were modified during construction: most changes were made to improve habitability, including the installation of air-conditioning.[4] The Darings were also the first all-welded ships to be constructed in Australia.[5]

The first Australian Daring was laid down in 1949.[5] By 1950, it was already apparent that the Australian Darings would not be completed on time, as the Australian dockyards were experiencing difficulty in keeping up with the construction schedule.[4] To compensate for this, the RAN unsuccessfully attempted to purchase two of the Darings under construction in the United Kingdom, and considered acquiring ships from the United States Navy despite the logistical difficulties in supplying and maintaining American vessels in a predominately British-designed fleet.[4] Only three ships were completed; Voyager, Vendetta, and Vampire were commissioned between 1957 and 1959.[5] By the time they were commissioned, the cost of each ship had increased from A£2.6 million to A£7 million.[5]

Cancelled ships

Eight further Daring-class destroyers ordered for the Royal Navy were cancelled on 27 December 1945: Danae, Decoy, Delight, Demon, Dervish, Desire, Desperate and Diana. Consequently, the ships of this class originally ordered as Disdain, Dogstar, Dragon and Druid were renamed as Delight, Defender, Decoy and Diana to perpetuate the names of the original "D"-class flotilla of the 1930s.

The fourth Australian Daring, to be named Waterhen was laid down in 1952 but cancelled in 1954 and scrapped on the slipway.[6] This was one of several cost-cutting measures to maintain a naval aviation force based around two aircraft carriers.[7]

Construction programme

Pennant [8] Name (a) Hull builder[9] Ordered[9] Laid down[9] Launched[9] Completed or
into service[9]
Commissioned[10] Estimated
building cost[11]
I05, later D119 Delight (ex-Disdain, ex-Ypres) Fairfield 5 June 1943 5 September 1946 21 December 1950 9 October 1953 9 October 1953
I06 Danae (ex-Vimiera) Cammell Laird 5 June 1943 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 - -
I15, later D05 Daring Swan Hunter 24 January 1945 29 September 1945 10 August 1949 8 March 1952 8 March 1952
I35 Demon Swan Hunter 24 January 1945 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 - -
I52, later D108 Dainty JS White 24 January 1945 17 December 1945 16 August 1950 26 February 1953 26 February 1953[citation needed]
I73 Dervish JS White 24 January 1945 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 -
I40 Decoy Vickers, Newcastle upon Tyne 24 January 1945 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 -
I45 Delight Vickers, Newcastle upon Tyne 24 January 1945 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 -
I81, later D35 Diamond John Brown 24 January 1945 15 March 1949 14 June 1950 21 February 1952 21 February 1952
I87 Desperate John Brown 24 January 1945 - - Cancelled 27 December 1945 -
I19 Desire Hawthorne Leslie 16 February 1945 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 -
I77 Diana Hawthorne Leslie 16 February 1945 - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 -
I47, later D114 Defender (ex-Dogstar) Stephen 16 February 1945 22 March 1949 27 July 1950 5 December 1952 5 December 1952
I56, later D106 Decoy (ex-Dragon) Yarrow 16 February 1945 23 September 1946 29 March 1949 28 April 1953 28 April 1953
I26, later D126 Diana (ex-Druid) Yarrow 16 February 1945 3 April 1947 8 May 1952 29 March 1954 29 March 1954
I94, later D154 Duchess Thornycroft 29 March 1945 8 July 1948 9 April 1951 23 October 1952 23 October 1952
Australian Daring-class destroyers
D11 Vampire Cockatoo Island 1 July 1952 27 October 1956 23 June 1959 23 June 1959
D08 Vendetta Williamstown Dock Yard[citation needed] 4 July 1949 3 May 1954 26 November 1958 26 November 1958
D04 Voyager Cockatoo Island 10 October 1949 1 May 1952 12 February 1957 12 February 1957
- Waterhen Williamstown Dock Yard December 1952 - Cancelled 1954 - -

British modifications

In 1958, the 'DC' group had their after torpedo tubes removed and replaced with a deckhouse providing additional accommodation facilities. This modification was made in the 'AC' ships in 1959-1960. Also at the same time, the 'AC's had their STAAG mounts replaced with single mount Mark 7 Bofors and had the director Mark VI replaced by the new director MRS-3 (medium range system) incorporating the Radar Type 903 for fire control. The Sea Cat missile launcher was fitted briefly to Decoy for acceptance trials in 1961,[12] but it was later removed and never fitted to the rest of the Darings as had been envisaged. Between 1962 and 1964, the 'DC' group had their STAAG mounts replaced by the Mark V also, with the final set of torpedo tubes being removed at the same time. This group also had the director MRS-3 replace the Mark VI.

Service and fate

The class saw service with the RN from the early 1950s to the early 1970s, and with the RAN from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, with Vampire in service as a training ship until 1986. Several of the ships were also involved in Cold War conflicts. Delight, Duchess, Vampire and Vendetta were involved in the Indonesian Confrontation. Vendetta also operated during the Vietnam War; the only Australian-built warship to fight in the conflict.[13]

Only one ship of the class was lost. On the night of 10 February 1964, Voyager crossed the bows of the aircraft carrier Melbourne and was rammed and sunk with the loss of 81 RAN personnel and one civilian contractor.[14] Duchess was loaned to the RAN as a replacement for four years while replacements (two modified River class destroyer escorts) were constructed, but was then sold to the RAN.[15]

The British Darings received little modernisation, and were all decommissioned as obsolete during the early 1970s. Two of these, Diana and Decoy, were sold to the Peruvian Navy and renamed BAP Palacios and BAP Ferré respectively. These two ships were modernised, with Palacios serving until 1993, and Ferré decommissioning in 2007.

The RAN ships were modernised in the early 1970s at a cost of A$20 million,[16] although modifications to Duchess were fewer than to her sister ships. Duchess and Vendetta remained in commission until the late 1970s, and Vampire was retained until 1986 as a training ship. The Australian Darings were replaced with the Perth-class destroyers, an American-built derivative of the Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer.[17] The training role of the Darings was first supplemented, then replaced, by HMAS Jervis Bay.[16] After decommissioning, Vampire became a museum ship at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney; the only ship of the class to be preserved.

An unidentified Daring-class destroyer played the fictional "HMS Sherwood" in the 1957 A. E. Matthews film comedy Carry On Admiral. There are a number of profile shots of the ship in Portsmouth dockyard, as well as detailed views above and below decks, and an interesting sequence showing the accidental firing of a torpedo at the admiral's barge.


  1. Marriott, Royal Navy Destroyers Since 1945, p. 88 says: "The Daring class were the largest conventional destroyers built by the Royal Navy".
  2. Blackman (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1954-55,[page needed]
  3. "HMAS Vendetta (II)". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Cooper, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 167
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Cooper, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 168
  6. Lenton, British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, p. 191
  7. Cooper, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 169
  8. Friedman, British Destroyers and Frigates, p. 330 gives all dates and pennant numbers for the Darings.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Moore, in Warship 2005, p. 115
  10. Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995, p. 505
  11. "Unit cost, i.e. excluding cost of certain items (e.g. aircraft, First Outfits)."
    Text from Defences Estimates
  12. "SEACAT - The Guided Missile To Defend Small Ships", in Flight International, p. 438
  13. Lind, The Royal Australian Navy - Historic Naval Events Year by Year, p. 274
  14. Frame, The Cruel Legacy, p. 5
  15. Frame, The Cruel Legacy, p. 21
  16. 16.0 16.1 Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 218
  17. Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, pp. 218-219

Further reading

  • Cocker, Maurice. Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981. Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1075-7. 
  • McCart, Neil (2008). Daring Class Destroyers. Maritime Books. ISBN 978-1-904459-33-0. 

External links

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