Military Wiki
HMS Iron Duke (F234)
HMS Iron Duke F234.jpg
HMS Iron Duke at the International Fleet Review 2005
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Iron Duke
Operator: Royal Navy
Ordered: July 1988
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down: 12 December 1988
Launched: 2 March 1991
Commissioned: 20 May 1993
Motto: Virtutis Fortuna Comes
"Fortune is the companion of valour"
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Badge: File:Iron Duke badge.gif
General characteristics
Class & type: Type 23 Frigate
Displacement: 4,900 tonnes, standard[1]
Length: 133 m (436 ft 4 in)
Beam: 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in)
Draught: 7.3 m (23 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: CODLAG with four 1510 kW (2,025 shp) Paxman Valenta 12CM diesel generators powering two GEC electric motors delivering 2980kW (4000 shp) and two Rolls-Royce Spey SM1A delivering 23,190 kW (31,100 shp) to two shafts
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range: 14,485 kilometres (9,001 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 185
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 4 x 6-barrel Seagnat decoy launchers
  • DFL2/3 offboard decoys
  • Anti-air missiles:
  • Anti-ship missiles:
  • Anti-submarine torpedoes:
  • Guns:
  • Aircraft carried:

    Lynx HMA8, armed with;

    • Sea Skua anti ship missiles, or
    • 2× anti submarine torpedoes

    Westland Merlin HM1, armed with;

    • 4× anti submarine torpedoes
    Aviation facilities:
  • Flight deck
  • Enclosed hangar
  • HMS Iron Duke is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, and the third ship to bear the name. Iron Duke was launched on 2 March 1991 by Lady Jane King in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Wellington. Her affiliated town is Kingston upon Hull, and she is named after Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (the "Iron Duke"). She was the fifth Duke-class Type 23 frigate to be launched for the Royal Navy at a cost of £140 million.

    The motto of Iron Duke is Virtutis Fortuna Comes (latin: "Fortune is the companion of valour") - inherited from the 33rd (The Duke of Wellington's) Regiment of Foot.

    Iron Duke carries a number of weapons and sensors. Although her primary role is anti-submarine warfare, she can be employed in a variety of roles. She carries a Lynx Helicopter which can also be used for a number of purposes.[2]

    Iron Duke has intercepted several large consignments of illegal drugs being sent from the Caribbean to Europe, in many cases with the aid of embarked United States Coast Guard personnel.


    In 2000, Iron Duke was part of the Royal Navy task force—comprising Illustrious, Ocean, Argyll, Chatham, and four RFA ships—that deployed to Sierra Leone during the civil war there. Iron Duke relieved Argyll of her duties in September.[3] During this incident Argyll, assisted by Ocean, laid the foundation for the Iron Duke Community School. This is a school for orphans in Freetown. President Kabbah of Sierra Leone decreed the school be named after the crew of Iron Duke for completing the construction of the six classrooms.[4]

    In May 2002 Iron Duke re-entered service after a refit, armed with a new 4.5 inch Mod 1 gun. Under the command of Commander Phil Warwick, Iron Duke sailed into Portsmouth for her re-dedication. Amongst those in attendance were the present Duke of Wellington and Earl Jellicoe, both related to figures associated with the ship's name and career.[5] The following January Iron Duke deployed to the Caribbean for counter-drugs operations, hurricane season disaster relief standby, and visiting UK Overseas Territories for diplomatic purposes. This was the frigate's first operation since completing her refit at the end of 2001 and comprehensive training including multi-national exercises off Scotland.[6]

    In February 2006 Iron Duke conducted trials in Loch Goil and Loch Fyne.[7]

    In September 2006 Iron Duke, under Commander Andy Jordan, was providing a presence for UK overseas territories in the Caribbean and providing the UK contribution to the US war on drugs. She returned to the UK in December 2006. During her six-month deployment, Iron Duke steamed over 31,000 nautical miles (57,000 km), and made 22 port visits to 18 different locations.[8]

    Iron Duke in 2010 during exercise Joint Warrior 10-1

    In 2007 Iron Duke, now under the command of Commander Mark Newland, was dry-docked for ten months at HMNB Portsmouth. Various systems were upgraded including the anti-submarine warfare equipment, and the ability to operate the Merlin helicopter was added. The first installation of a NATO Radial Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear filter system was made; this filter was undergoing trials prior to installation across the fleet, if successful.[9][10]

    After 18 months of refit and upgrading, by March 2008 Iron Duke was halfway through her Operational Sea Training, in readiness for deployment to the North Atlantic at the end of May. All aspects of warfare were included in the training, including the infamous 'Thursday War' training exercise.[11]

    In 18 April 2008 Iron Duke deployed to Avonmouth to train in sea and harbour safety. Avon and Somerset Police assisted in training in the co-operation between the Royal Navy and uniformed police in the event of harbour security being breached. Civic dignitaries also viewed the ship.[12] Later in April the Iron Duke's Operational Sea Training increased in difficulty with a simulation of tension between Brownian and Ginger forces with negotiations in neutral Freeport (Devonport) and a high risk of terrorist attacks. This exercise tested the defensive capabilities of the ship and the flexibility of proportional response to threats. Later in the series of exercises a hurricane hit the simulated island of Bullpoint, allowing Iron Duke to test her disaster relief capabilities including first aid, providing food and shelter to the survivors and helping to rebuild basic amenities.[13]

    Iron Duke visited her home town, Kingston upon Hull, over the weekend of 26 to 29 April 2008 and was open to the public for 6 hours.[14][15]

    By Friday 13 June Iron Duke arrived in Lisbon, Portugal after two operational stand-offs in order to determine that she was ready to deploy operationally. Iron Duke was briefed by the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics, a pan-European counter-narcotics agency, about intelligence on criminal matters such as cannabis and cocaine smuggling on the high seas. She then moved to Gibraltar for re-supply and the infamous Rock Run. Iron Duke was now on Maritime Security Patrol in the North Atlantic.[16]

    As of 31 August 2008 Iron Duke was dispatched to assist relief efforts for the Atlantic Hurricane Gustav.[17]

    HMS Iron Duke intercepting a suspected smuggling vssel in he Caribbean.

    Iron Duke has intercepted illegal drugs being shipped from the Caribbean to Europe on several occasions, sometimes aided by embarked United States Coast Guard personnel. Large shipments were intercepted on 25 June 2003 (3.7 tonnes of cocaine on MV Yalta),[18] 2 June 2008 (900 kilograms of cocaine in a speedboat which later sank),[19] late July 2009 (drugs with a street value of £33m on a speedboat later sunk by gunfire).[20] and September 2009 (5.5 tonnes of cocaine).[21]

    In March 2012 Iron Duke began a major refit in HM Naval Base, Portsmouth. Some major parts of the work package took place for the first time on a Type 23 class of ship, as the MOD looks to extend the life of the Type 23 frigates beyond the original time frame to coincide with the introduction of the Type 26 class of ships, the first which is currently expected to enter service as soon as possible after 2020. Also included in the refit was the installation of BAE Systems Artisan medium-range 3D surveillance radar[22][23] and in June 2013 she was put back at sea.[24] She tested fired 7.62mm rounds from her General Purpose Machine Guns and Mini-Guns, 3 lb ceremonial guns and the torpedo system.[25]

    Notable billeting

    Prince William served in Iron Duke in the Caribbean for 5 weeks from late June 2008 with the rank of sub-lieutenant.[26]



    1. "Type 23 Frigates". Royal Navy. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
    2. History : HMS Iron Duke : Type 23 Frigates : Surface Fleet : Operations and Support : Royal Navy
    3. "Summer 2000: Duties In Sierra Leone.". The Worshipful Company of Paviors. 2000-11-28. 
    4. "Iron Duke completes 33,000-mile voyage.". Navy news newspaper. 2001-02-26. 
    5. "HMS Iron Duke Re-enters Service.". Royal Navy. 2002-05-22. 
    6. "Frigate Sails For Counter-Drugs Operations.". Royal Navy. 2003-01-21. 
    7. "Scottish Trials for Iron Duke.". Royal Navy. 2006-02-28. 
    8. "Six Ships Return To Portsmouth In Three Days.". Royal Navy. 2006-12-11. 
    9. "Refit Period for Iron Duke.". Royal Navy. 2007-07-06. 
    10. "New CBRN Fit on HMS Iron Duke.". Royal Navy. 2007-12-14. 
    11. "HMS Iron Duke - Progress with Sea training.". Royal Navy. 2008-03-26. 
    12. "Pressure Is On As Royal Navy Warship Is Put Through Its Paces in Avonmouth.". Royal Navy. 2008-04-16. 
    13. "Operational Sea Training – Disaster in the Caribbean!". Royal Navy. 2008-04-22. 
    14. "Hull Welcomes Its Very Own Duke.". Royal Navy. 2008-04-23. 
    15. "Iron Duke Rounds off Successful Visit to Hull.". Royal Navy. 2008-04-29. 
    16. "Operational Stand Offs Prepare Iron Duke for Imminent Operations.". Royal Navy. 2008-06-13. 
    17. "Navy ships help after hurricane.". BBC News. 2008-08-31. 
    18. "Iron Duke in £250 Million Drug Swoop.". Royal Navy. 2003-06-30. 
    19. "William's ship seizes drugs haul.". BBC News. 2008-07-02. 
    20. BBC: Navy blasts drugs speedboat
    21. BBC: Navy seizes cocaine 'worth £240m'.
    22. "HMS Iron Duke equipped with Artisan surveillance radar.". 2013-03-07. 
    23. "Iron Duke Back At Sea After Major Upgrade". June 26, 2013. 
    26. Stone, Mark (2008-05-31). "Prince To Tackle Smugglers In Caribbean". Sky News. BSkyB.,,30100-1317716,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
    27. "BBC News - Jersey's warship HMS Iron Duke visits island". 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 

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