Military Wiki
HMS Northumberland (F238)
HMS Northumberland from Belfast.jpg
HMS Northumberland coming alongside HMS Belfast as part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, April 2007
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Northumberland
Operator: Royal Navy
Ordered: December 1989
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down: 4 April 1991
Launched: 4 April 1992
Sponsored by: Lady Anne Kerr
Commissioned: 29 September 1994
Homeport: HMNB Devonport, Plymouth
Identification: Pennant number: F238
Honours and
Barfleur 1692, Vigo 1702, Louisberg 1758, Quebec 1759, Egypt 1801, San Domingo 1806, Groix Island 1812, Egypt 1882
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Badge: File:Hms Northumberland 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 km (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 Northumberland is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy. She is named after the Duke of Northumberland. She is the eighth RN ship to bear the name since the first 70 gun frigate in 1679, and the ninth in the class of Type 23 frigates. She is based at Devonport and is part of the Devonport Flotilla.

    Service history


    She was built by Swan Hunter in 1992 on the Tyne at Wallsend. She was launched by her sponsor Lady Kerr, wife of Admiral Sir John Kerr GCB DL, the former Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, in April 1992 and was accepted into Royal Naval Service in May 1994.

    1994 deployment

    After sea trials and going to F.O.S.T. she was deployed to the Falklands. During her passage HMS Northumberland had to divert into rough weather to effect the rescue of a fishing trawler. During the diversion the ship struck a whale, although the crew was initially unaware of this. At Tenerife, after dropping off the rescued fishermen, the bow dome began to leak. The dome continued to leak during her resumed voyage to the Falkland Islands leading to the Northumberland having to remain at the islands until good weather conditions were prevailing. Once better weather arrived she sailed to Brazil to be put into dry dock. She was escorted in by two ex Royal Navy type 22 frigates. Once in the dry dock the whale was discovered and subsequent repairs took three weeks at a cost of £3 million.[citation needed]

    1999 Deployment

    Deploying to the Caribbean in 1999 for counter narcotics and disaster relief duties, she seized over two tonnes of cocaine (with a street-value of £135 million), in cooperation with a United States Coast Guard law enforcement detachment.[2]

    Northumberland's 4.5 inch Mk 8 Mod 1 "Kryten" naval gun designed to reduce radar cross section

    2004/05 refit

    From July 2004 to July 2005 she underwent an extensive refit at Number 1 dock inner at Babcock's dockyard in Rosyth, her first refit since build. This equipped her with an updated suite of weapons and sensors (e.g. a modified 4.5" Gun and the latest Low Frequency Active Sonar) and of propulsion and mechanical systems. Improvements were also made to the living quarters and a state of the art galley to feed the Ship's Company. Large areas of corroded deck have also been replaced. Also replaced were corroded areas of the flight deck, improving the lighting system that the pilots will use during night landings and installing a new helicopter handling system to move a 13 ton Merlin helicopter safely in and out of the hangar. (Although the Type 23 was originally designed to operate the Merlin, Northumberland had previously only hosted the much smaller Lynx.) The combination of 2087 LFAS and Merlin ASW helicopter has subsequently proved highly effective and the class is widely regarded as the most capable anti-submarine frigate afloat.


    She rejoined the fleet at the Trafalgar 200 celebrations, then embarked for a period of sea training, starting with BOST (Basic Operational Sea Training) in January 2006, straight after the Christmas leave period.[3] For a time during 2006 she then accompanied the submarine HMS Torbay on her deployment to the US AUTEC (Acoustic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Centre) which is based on Andros Island in the Bahamas.[4] In 2007 she deployed to the Mediterranean as part of the UK's contribution to NATO maritime forces. In 2008 she deployed to the Indian Ocean as the first RN warship to participate in the EU's counter piracy Operation ATALANTA, conducting numerous counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and escorting World Food Programme humanitarian shipping between Mombasa and Mogadishu; this was partially documented in the Sky TV programme "Ross Kemp: In search of pirates". She deployed to the Indian Ocean again in 2010 for an eight-month counter-piracy patrol as part of the international naval counter-piracy task force, TF 151 and conducted numerous operations to disrupt piracy activity in the Gulf of Aden and the eastern Somali coast. She returned to the UK at the end of 2010 for an extensive refit in 2011.

    2011 refit

    Her extensive refit at the beginning of 2011 included significant technology upgrades. The Sea Wolf point defence missile system was upgraded with the Sea Wolf Mid-Life Update (SWMLU - pronounced "swimloo") which substantially improves the range, performance and reliability of the system. The combat system was upgraded from outfit DNA to DNA2, replacing the combat system architecture to improve redundancy and system performance, and a software upgrade which significantly improves overall functionality and sensor integration, as well as providing MMI convergance with the Type 45 destroyer's command system. Two 30mm BMARC cannons were replaced by two 30mm Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASCG) mountings. These allow remote control of the mount via operator consoles and integrated Electro Optic fire control. Additional modifications improved habitability and reliability in high ambient temperatures.


    Emerging from refit in the summer of 2011, she completed her sea trials and weapon acceptance programme, conducting eight weeks of Basic Operational Sea Training (BOST) in early 2012. She deployed back to the Indian Ocean in the Autumn of 2012 for counter-piracy and counter-narcotics tasking. This included the successful capture and destruction of over £5M of cannabis resin from a smuggler in the Arabian Sea. She returned to the UK in May 2013.[5] She is due to participate in Exercise Joint Warrior 2013.[6]

    Commanding officers

    Name Date
    Cdr S Bramley RN 1994-1996
    Cdr S B Charlier RN 1996-1998
    Cdr M S Peary RN 1998-2000
    Cdr S R McQuaker RN 2000-2002
    Cdr A J Burton RN 2002-2005
    Cdr T J Guy RN 2005-2007
    Cdr M J Simpson RN 2007-2009
    Cdr P L Allen RN 2009-2011
    Cdr P G Dowsett RN 2011-2013


    Northumberland alongside HMS Belfast on the Thames

    She is affiliated to numerous organisations:

    • Northumberland County Council
    • The Light Dragoons
    • The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
    • The 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
    • The Sir James Knott Trust
    • The Worshipful Company of Bowyers
    • The Bank Of England's North Eastern Regional Agency
    • The Calvert Trust
    • Hexham Abbey
    • RAF Boulmer
    • The Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne
    • 'Spirit of Northumberland', the RNLI Tynemouth Lifeboat[7]
    • TS Tenacity SCC
    • The Morpeth Pipe Band (whose pipers regularly pipe the Ship in and out of Devonport when deploying or returning)
    • TS Dreadnought (Greenwich, Deptford & Rotherhithe Sea Cadets)
    • Dame Alice Harpur School, Bedford High School and Bedford School
    • Solihull School CCF

    In honouring these affiliations, she regularly visits Newcastle (most recently in February 2011) and occasionally, London, most recently mooring along the north side of HMS Belfast in April 2007 as part of the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act 1807. On that visit she was open to the public with a display on modern anti-slaving operations in which she and other ships of the Royal Navy take part. She also visited Baltimore in June 2006, Marmaris in Turkey in February 2003 and in October 2001 attended an Australian Fleet Review in Sydney.


    External links

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