Military Wiki
HMS Bristol (D23)
HMS Bristol D23.jpg
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Bristol
Namesake: Bristol
Ordered: 17 April 1963
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down: 15 November 1967
Launched: 30 June 1969
Commissioned: 31 March 1973
Identification: Pennant D23
Honours and
Falklands 1982
Fate: Training & Accommodation ship, primarily for reserve and cadet forces
Badge: File:HMS Bristol badge.jpg
General characteristics
Class & type: Type 82
Type: destroyer
Displacement: 6,300 tons (standard) (6,400 tonnes)[1]
Length: 507 ft (155 m)
Beam: 55 ft (17 m)
Draught: 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in)

COSAG, 2 standard range geared steam turbines 30,000 hp (22,000 kW),

2 Bristol-Siddeley Olympus TM1A gas turbines 30,000 hp, 2 shafts, 2 boilers
Speed: 28 kt (52 km/h)
Range: 5,750 nautical miles (10,650 km) at 18 kt (33 km/h)
Complement: 397 (30 officers)
Armament: Sea Dart, Ikara, 4.5 inch Mark 8 gun, Limbo.
Aircraft carried: none
Aviation facilities: flight deck

HMS Bristol (D23) is a Type 82 destroyer, the only vessel of her class to be built for the Royal Navy. Originally intended as the first of a class of new large destroyers to escort the CVA-01 aircraft carriers projected to come into service in the early 1970s, Bristol turned out to be a unique ship. The rest of the class were cancelled when the CVA-01 carriers fell victim to the 1966 Strategic Defence Review.


On board HMS Bristol, 2005

The CVA-01 fleet aircraft carrier was designed to replace the World War II vintage aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy. The first plans were for two carriers and to protect these carriers four new Type 82 area air defence destroyers[2] were to be built. In 1963, the then Minister of Defence Peter Thorneycroft, announced in Parliament that one new aircraft carrier would be built, at an estimated cost of £56 million. However, a change of government and competition from the RAF (the RAF and Navy were both expected to use the Hawker P.1154 supersonic V/STOL aircraft, a larger version of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier) saw the project being cancelled in the 1966 Defence White Paper. This eliminated the requirement for the Type 82 class destroyer. However, one vessel of the original four was ordered on 4 October 1966 for use as a testbed for new technologies. HMS Bristol was launched in 1969, featuring four new weapons and electronics systems.


Bristol's hull was laid down by Swan Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd on 15 November 1967. She was launched on 30 June 1969, accepted into service on 15 December 1972 [3] and then commissioned on 31 March 1973. Her estimated building cost was £24,217,000.[3]

Weapon systems

Bristol saw a number of new systems introduced into the Navy, including the Sea Dart and Ikara missile systems and was the first ship to carry the new 4.5 inch (113 mm) Mk 8 gun. Another new addition to the fleet was the advanced ADAWS-2 (Action Data Automated Weapons System Mk.2), a computer system designed to coordinate the ship's weapons and sensors. The latter feature, although not externally apparent, was perhaps one of the most pioneering of the new design. It was a leap forward from the rudimentary action information system of its predecessor the County-class destroyers with its heavy reliance on manual data input.

Sea Dart (GWS 30) system comprised a twin-arm launcher on the quarterdeck with a pair of radar Type 909 target illumination sets, an improvement over the single radar Type 901 set of the County design. The second weapon system was the Australian Ikara anti-submarine weapon. Ikara was a rocket-powered carrier that could deliver a small homing torpedo out to 10 miles (16 km) from the ship. The Ikara was backed up by a Mark 10 Limbo anti-submarine mortar.

The single Mark 8 114 mm gun was not intended as an anti-aircraft weapon, and as such had an elevation of only 55°. The weapon was designed specifically for reliability over rate of fire, allowing only a single mounting to be shipped, and the comparatively low rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute was more than suitable for the intended anti-ship and shore-bombardment roles. Bristol, although capable of landing a Westland Wasp helicopter on the quarterdeck, lacked a hangar and aviation facilities and thus had to rely on external air support.

Active service

The role which Bristol was built for never materialised and as such she spent most of her service in the 1970s trialling and building up experience using the new weapons and computer systems. A major boiler fire in 1974 destroyed the steam plant. Older ships may have been crippled by this, but Bristol was able to operate for three years using only her gas plant, demonstrating the flexibility and utility of the latter. The steam plant was repaired in 1976 and it was not until 1979 that she was fitted out for frontline service with ECM, Corvus countermeasures launchers and a pair of World War II-era Oerlikon 20 mm cannons. During this refit the Limbo weapon was removed; the well subsequently saw service as a makeshift swimming pool.

Falklands War (1982)

Bristol at Ascension Island with a Chinook helicopter flying overhead in 1982

Being a large ship Bristol was suitable for use as a flagship as she could embark the extra staff members necessary for this role. As such, she served as the Royal Navy flagship during ‘’Exercise Ocean Safari ‘81’’. After a short refit, during which the mortar well was plated over to allow the landing of large helicopters on the quarterdeck, she joined the Royal Navy task force in the South Atlantic in the 1982 Falklands War. Bristol led the Bristol group of reinforcement ships south and then joined the carrier battle group, Task Group 317.8. After the conflict she remained in situ as flagship of the remaining Royal Navy forces. On return to the UK she entered a refit and, in light of the lessons of the conflict, she had her light anti aircraft weapons augmented with a pair of twin Oerlikon / BMARC 30 mm GCM-A03 and a pair of single Oerlikon / BMARC 20 mm GAM-B01 guns. Loral-Hycor SRBOC countermeasures launchers were also added to augment the elderly Corvus launchers.

Return from Falklands (1983–1987)

With the Royal Navy short on hulls after damages and losses incurred in the Falklands, Bristol remained in commission and made several overseas deployments until paid off for refit in 1984. Another boiler explosion when entering refit caused extensive damage and had to be repaired. The major work undertaken in the refit was to replace the obsolete radar Type 965 with the new radar Type 1022 for long range air search duties. In addition, the Ikara system was removed and it was intended that it be replaced with two triple STWS-1 launchers for 324 mm anti-submarine torpedoes, although these were never fitted.

As the 1990s dawned, the ship was increasingly becoming an anachronism. As the fleet downsized, maintaining a unique vessel over 20 years old when plenty of other air defence destroyers were in commission no longer seemed worthwhile. In 1987 she replaced the County class destroyer HMS Kent as the Britannia Royal Naval College training ship, for which duties she had extra accommodation and classrooms added in the former Ikara and Limbo spaces.

Training ship

HMS Bristol moored alongside Whale Island

HMS Bristol was paid off in 1991 and refitted to again replace Kent, this time as the training ship located at HMS Excellent. Bristol is permanently berthed at Whale Island, Portsmouth and is primarily used as a training ship and accommodation ship for Royal Naval personnel. Many young people from the Sea Cadets,(who hold two annual camps onboard) the Combined Cadet Force and the Sea Scouts have their first experience of life on board a warship whilst on Bristol. The Air Training Corps & Army Cadets Units are also known to make use of the facilities. In addition, the ship is also used by a number of colleges who are running the Edexcel BTEC Public Services course. The Ship's Company is made up of Royal Navy personnel and full-time civilian staff employed by Babcock International Group.

The Commanding Officer of Bristol is Lieutenant Commander D J Price RN.[4] The Executive Officer / First Lieutenant is Lieutenant Commander J W Haynes RN Rtd.[dead link]

Refit 2010-11

HMS Bristol was refitted at A&P Tyne, Hebburn. The effects of the refit has been said to "...extend the service life of HMS Bristol for 10 years" Work will bring facilities on Bristol in line with health and safety standards.[5] She departed from Portsmouth on 20 October 2010,[6] and arrived at Hebburn under tow on the morning of 3 November 2010.[7] HMS Bristol left Hebburn in April 2011[8] to return to Portsmouth

Commanding Officers

  • 1972-1973: Captain Roderick MacDonald RN
  • 1973-1975: Captain Hugh Janion RN
  • 1975-1976: Captain Robert Squires RN
  • 1977-1978: Captain Alexander Weir RN
  • 1978-1979: Captain David Brown RN
  • 1979-1981: Captain Anthony Casdagli RN
  • 1981-1982: Captain Alan Grose RN
  • 1982-1983: Captain Michael Rawlinson RN
  • 1983-1984: Captain Gordon Walwyn RN
  • 1985-1987: Captain Hugo White RN
  • 1987-1988: Captain Alan West DSC RN
  • 1988-1990: Captain Peter Franklyn RN
  • 1990-1991: Captain Richard Hastilow RN


  1. HMS Bristol
  2. although the 1980-81 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships shows her as a Light Cruiser
  3. 3.0 3.1 Defence Estimates, 1973-74, page XII-96, Table V: List and particulars of new ships which have been accepted or are expected to be accepted into HM service during the Financial Year ended 31st March 1973
  4. "Fleet Bridge Card 28 September 2012". Royal Navy. Retrieved 29 October 2012. [dead link]
  5. Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette, Yard contract will safeguard 100 jobs, by Terry Kelly, 28 October 2010.
  6., accessed 3 November 2010.
  7. Hebburn Website Message Board, accessed 3 November 2010.
    Trawler Pictures, accessed 3 November 2010., accessed 3 November 2010.
    These sites have photographs of her arrival.
  8. Warship HMS Bristol leaves A&P Tyne at Hebburn after refit

External links

Coordinates: 50°48.760′N 1°06.036′W / 50.81267°N 1.1006°W / 50.81267; -1.1006 (HMS Bristol)

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