<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Type 12(I) Leander Class Frigate


Type 12(I) Leander Class

On the 2nd of March 1962 the Admiralty announced the intent to build a "Mark 2 Whitby" which would operate a helicopter and amalgamate the role of Aircraft Direction. It was also announced that the new ship would be Air Conditioned. Janes listed the ship as an "Improved Type 12"

The 1960's might be fondly remembered for tie-die hippies, rock concerts and free love. But it was a grim place in the real world, the space race was on and the prize was who could park nuclear weapons up there and intercept the others. Incredibly fast nuclear submarines that did not need to surface on a mission were under way, communism had spread to the coast of the US in Cuba and Vietnam was starting to look like another Korea.

Relations with the US were horribly strained after the Suez Crises and were about to get the same with South Africa after the Prime Minister made it clear the African Colonies would get independance and Apartheid would no longer be tolerated.

In many ways it appeared to Britain that they were on their own again, and one consequence of that was a long hard look at the armed forces. The RN tactic of acting in concert with the US was now in doubt and the provision of dedicated anti-submarine ships to keep the sealanes clear could not be justified, American airpower in the form of its huge carrier fleet could no longer be assumed to be awaiting a call for help over the horizon.

One consequence was the Frigate's role had to be expanded yet again. It had to be able to act independantly as a patrol ship or even a force leader as in the Convoys of WWII when Escorts were often just armed merchantmen and trawlers. And a means had to be found to combat the new generation of submarines which could outrun even a 30 knot ship.

HMS Achilles, the Leander Class was a superb maid of all work, one of their less obvious attributes was their ability to act as a communications centre with extensive MF/HF/UHF radio systems which would be augmented with satellite communications in later years.

Whether as an ambassador or a show of force the Leander Class took on the role of Colonial Gunboat from the Sloop in the twilight of Empire.

Much of the answers were already available in the Type 81 Tribal Class Frigate, here was a ship that was proving itself well balanced and able to meet just about any emergency without having to commit Fleet resources. Even though the awaited Wasp had yet to make a maiden flight, yet alone land on a deck, it was clear hear was the answer to the threat. Helicopters were already proving their worth, first in Korea, now in Vietnam, and exercises with the Westland Wessex embarked on Carriers and County Class Destroyers promised great things as submarine hunters since an enemy submarine had no way of knowing what was coming at it.

The Type 81 also had long range air warning radar which was perceived as a must in a multi-role Frigate. But it could not reach above 24 knots.

The Wasp was based on the Army Scout light helicopter

The Type 81 was powered by a cut down version of the engines fitted in the County Class Destroyer. That carried two steam plants and turbines and 4 G6 gas turbines in an arrangement known as COSAG (Combined Steam and Gas) meaning the power of both steam and gas turbines could be applied to shafts at the same time. The Type 81 had a half Y-100 fit of one boiler and turbine and one G6 turbine. The arrangement was proving excellent, the gas turbines providing turn key operation (a steam plant took four hours from cold to start) and the steam engines a good cruise engine.

But neither the Type 12 or 81 hull could not take a combination of steam and gas to provide the required performance. Plans were underway to pair high performance and cruise gas turbines and they would be trialed in Exmouth, but a solution was needed now. Since the Type 12 hull and steam plant provided the performance and was tried, proved and tested the idea of a gas turbine ship was dropped and designers instead concentrated on the Type 12 hull.

One advance had come about that would help: The Type 12 and 12(M) used trim tanks that were filled with sea water as the fuel tanks were emptied. But a system had been developed that allowed water and fuel to share the same tank, so as fuel was used up water was pumped in to maintain the ship's stability. This meant that some of the trim tanks could be dispensed with. The space saving allowed the re-positioning of the auxilliary diesels down from the forecastle to the bottom of the ship, a huge saving in top hamper. Another 60 tons of oil bunkerage was also obtained, making a total of 90 tons more than the original Whitby Class.

This displaced the officers accomodations also, but the weight saving allowed not only the fitting of long range radar and the heavy AKE antenna, but a superstructure from the Bridge aft to the Flight Deck formed by plating over the forward Limbo. The aft part of the superstructure formed the hanger and the remainder formed the Officers accomodation and spaces for the additional electronics for radar and electronic warfare systems.

The beautiful lines of a Leander Class Frigate. Although the basic hull is the same as the Type 12 and 12(M) the "cheek" has gone which gives the main hull a much more elegant shape. The superstructure, bridge, funnel and masts are based on the County Class Destroyer. All portholes in the main hull have gone except for a couple right on the stern for the VDS winch operator. In this view the Hanger roof is surmounted by two Bofors guns, the starboard one is clearly visible.

The Canadian SQS-504 Variable Depth Sonar system had already been tried on two of the Type 81 Frigates and space was made for this also on the stern of the ship, in the RN the system was classed Type 199. The VDS was a counter to the deep diving nuclear boats which could hide in shadow zones caused by temperature variants at different depths.

Seacat was planned for installation from the start, and it would be the radar and optical guied version GWS-22, not the lightweight GWS-20, though in the event one ship, HMS Naiad, would be fitted with GWS-20 for a while. Neither the Wasp helicopter or Seacat were available for the first of the Leander Class and they were commissioned with two 40mm Bofors on their hanger roofs and the hanger itself a very useful storage area.

In respect of accomodation the Leander also followed the Type 81 Tribal in that all mess decks were fully equipped with bunks, there was a seperate dining area and a fully equipped galley.

Once again though opportunity was lost and the ageing Mk6 twin 4.5" was retained, despite there being ample choice of lighter, quick firing automatic weapons being available. The role of the gun though was now firmly esconced as NGS (Naval Gunfire Support) and it was the heaviest weapon the Frigate could support. The Leander was equipped with the MRS-3 gun director system even so to give it a role in AA and surface actions but the standard shell now carried was a proximity fused shrapnel shell which was designed primarilly to detonate above enemy positions ashore.

HMS Cleopatra, shown before her VDS sonar was installed, her Wasp is ranged on deck and Seacat GW-22 is mounted on the hanger roof. The Diesels have been moved deep into the ship and now exhaust up the foremast, the black panel is not to cover the exhaust fumes, it is RAM, Radar Absorbant Material and stops the 965 radar energy bouncing straight back to the AKE "bedstead" aerial on the mainmast.

The Leander turned out to be a very handsome ship, much of her superstructure features being borrowed from the County Class, including a rounder Bridge, stream lined funnel and solid style masts. They were an exciting addition to the Fleet, a small number of Leanders could provide a screen for a task force or convoy with interlocking radar coverage, intercept incoming air attacks and provide an anti-submarine screen backed by patrolling helicopters to combat fast patrol boats.

With a comprehensive range of sensors and weapons, and all backed by a communications array worthy of any flagship of the day, the Leander shouldered all the hopes placed on the class. The additional top weight did not make her unseaworthy as some predicted, and she was not suseptable to cross winds despite the extra profile. In many ways the ship became the Fleet's Swiss Army Knife, a useful tool in almost any adventuality.

Three distinct batches were constructed, the primary difference being upgrades in engine design to improve noise reduction and remote control. The third batch was also broadened two feet in the beam as trials had indicated this would improve sea keeping still further and allow a greater flexibility in upgrading the ships with additional gear when needed.

I will cover major refits seperatly but the Leanders as built largely remained the same, the last few omitted the VDS 199 sonar as a new type of search sonar was becoming availble that combined frequency shifting and beam steering to overcome shadow zones. There were changes to the Electronic Warfare fit on the foremast too and positioning of the Navigation Radar to improve helicopter tracking, but on the whole the last of the RN Leanders looked pretty much the same as the first when she left the builders yard.

HMS Ariadne, the last of the Leanders after a ten year building program, and the last steam ship to enter service in the RN. She is two feet broader in the beam than the original HMS Leander and carries a more complex EW and Radio fit, the small radar platform on the front of the foremast has been offset to allow it to "look" astern and guide the Wasp onto the flightdeck in poor visibility.

The role of the Leander was always firmly pegged as Anti-Submarine by the Royal Navy, and no doubt in war that would have been the case, but in peacetime they were to be found all over the world, alone or in company, showing the flag, chasing smugglers and pirates, shadowing Soviet forces, landing marines or helping out in disasters.

Although supposedly all named after Ancient Greek characters in legend that is not entirely the case: HMS Cleopatra being named for the Egyptian Queen who seduced Julius Ceaser and Mark Anthony. The reason? My guess is someone was asleep in class during Classics.

Such was the popularity of the ship that it continued to be built for ten years with a total of 26 entering service in the RN, I will cover those exported and built under license elsewhere.

It is intriguing to note that the first of the Type 21 Frigates was laid down less than a week after the last of the Leander Class, most of the Leanders would be decommissioned in the early 90's, the Type 21's which survived the Falklands were all sold to Pakistan in 1994. No Leander, or indeed any Type 12 was ever sunk by enemy action, fire or collision.

The Wasp helicopter extended the Leander's weapon reach, seen here being loaded with two Mk44 homing torpedoes the Wasp also had a valuable peace time role in rescue operations

By the late 70's the Type 21 were starting to make their presence felt and many of us were confident the Type 12's would be phased out in favour of these wonderful new ships. Everything impressed, from the well thought out control systems, the clean engine rooms, the superb accomodation. Many of those of us drafted to Type 12s such as the Leanders felt slighted and passed by, doomed in the promotion stakes as we were missing out on the new technology.

But that just did not happen. If anything the Type 21 seemed to be side-lined, one rumour was the Olympus Engines gobbled up so much fuel that given the sudden huge jump in oil prices the RN simply could not afford to run them!

When the first of the new "Super Frigates" the Type 22 put in an appearance and we all finaly managed to stop laughing we knew the Leander was going to be around for a long time yet. Many like myself insisted on a Leander berth when stating draft preferences, typicaly a form of the time would ask for three preferences in order of prioirty and it was not uncommon to see them filled "Leander...Leander...Leander"

The phrase "Leander man" entered the language. "You Frigates mate?" "You bet, Leander man to the core!" What it was about these ships that inspired loyalty and affection in the crews is hard to explain. Although described as good sea keepers that is not an answer you would get off a crewman three days and nights out in the Bay of Biscay, covered in bruises, bleary eyed from lack of sleep, hanging on for dear life as the ship smashed into Goffa and the crashing sounds from the galley announced that dinner was going to be cold sandwhiches again.

You did not sleep on a Leander in bad weather, you strapped yourself into your bunk, wedged yourself as best you could and dozed in-between the more violent manouvres. When you got up you felt like you had run a marathon while being beaten with clubs. It was crowded like a subway train, wreaked of fuel and sour grease, noisy and either red hot or freezing cold. Then when you cleared the bay and the sun came out the skipper would order the hatches sealed shut and put the crew on six on, six off defence watches until we found the Arctic storms up by Nova Scotia.

It was like having a bad tempered mistress, you worked your heart out to please her and she still slapped you around, but you just could not bear life without her!

Laid down in 1978 the Soviet Oscar Class submarine was an underwater battleship, she was designed to destroy a carrier task force with cruise missiles, overwhelming air defences with 24 600km range "Shipwreck" SS-N-19 cruise missiles, she raised the cold war stakes.

It is not in the nature of the British Sailor to express pride in the Navy or his (her) ship but the Type 12 crews tended to form a deep attachment for their class of ship, even for the sub class. (Note the hatch in the Flightdeck of this Ikara Leander is an emergency Seacat hoist, these ships were designed to take a lot of punishment and still be able to fight.



Laid Down
Leander 1 F109 Harland and Wolff 10-4-1959 28-6-1961 27-3-1963 Reserve Fleet 1-9-1988, Sep 1989, sunk as target.
Ajax 1 F114 Cammell Laird 12-10-1959 16-8-1962 10-12-1963 Decommissioned 31 May 1985, scrapped 1988
Dido 1 F104 Yarrow 2-12-1959 22-12-1961 18-9-1963 Sold to New Zealand as HMNZS Southland 18-7-1983, decommissioned 1995 and sold for scrap
Penelope 1 F127 Vickers Armstrong 14-3-1961 17-8-1962 31-10-1963 Sold to Ecuador in 1991 ass Presidente Eloy Alfaro
Aurora 1 F10 John Brown 1-6-1961 28-11-1962 9-4-1964 Paid off 1-5-1987, sold to Devonport DML, scrapped Sep 1990
Euryalus 1 F15 Scotts 2-11-1961 6-6-1963 16-9-1964  Paid off May 1989, sold to Devonport DML, scrapped Sep 1990
Galatea 1 F18 Swan Hunter 22-12-1961 23-5-1963 25-4-1964  Paid off Aug 1986 into reserve, sunk as target June 1988
Arethusa 1 F38 J Samuel White 7-9-1962 5-11-1963 24-11-1965 Paid off 4-4-1989, sunk as target 1-6-1991
Naiad 1 F39 Yarrow 30-10-1962 4-11-1963 15-3-1965 Paid off 1-5-1987, sunk as part of weapon effect tests 28-9-1990
Phoebe 2 F42 Vickers Armstrong 3-6-1963 8-7-1964 15-4-1966 Paid off 31-12-1990, sold for scrap 13-10-1992 
Cleopatra 2 F28 HMD Devonport 19-6-1963 25-3-1964 4-1-1966 Paid off 1-6-1992, scrapped 1994
Minerva 2 F45 Alex Stephens 25-7-1963 19-12-1964 14-5-1966  Paid off 30-4-1992, scrapped 1994
Sirius 2 F40 HMD Portsmouth 9-8-1963 22-9-1964 15-6-1966  Paid off 27-2-1993, torpedoed as target 30-9-1998
Juno 2 F52 J Thornycroft 16-7-1964 24-11-1965 18-7-1967 Paid off 4-11-1992, scrapped 1995 
Argonaught 2 F56 Hawthorne Leslie 27-11-1964 8-2-1966 18-8-1967  Paid off 31-3-1993, scrapped January 1995
Danae 2 F47 HMD Devonport 16-12-1964 31-10-1965 7-9-1967 Sold to Ecuador July 1991 as Morano Valverde 
Hermoine 3 F58 Alex Stephens 6-12-1965 26-4-1967 11-7-1969  Paid off 1992, scrapped 1998
Andromeda 3 F57 HMD Portsmouth 25-4-1966 24-5-1967 2-12-1968 Paid off June 1993 into the reserve fleet, sold to India 22-8-1995 as Krishna 
Jupiter 3 F60 Yarrow 3-10-1966 4-9-1967 2-8-1969  Paid off 22-8-1992 , scrapped Sep 1997
Bacchante 3 F69 Vickers 27-10-1966 29-2-1968 17-10-1969  Sold to New Zealand early 1982 as HMNZS Wellington, sunk as a reef 13-11-2005
Charybdis 3 F75 Harland & Wolff 27-1-1967 28-2-1968 2-6-1969  Paid off 30-9-1991, sunk as a target 11-6-1993
Scylla 3 F71 HMD Devonport 17-5-1967 8-8-1968 12-2-1970 Paid off 27-3-1990, sunk as an artificial reef 27-3-2004
Achilles 3 F12 Yarrow 1-12-1967 21-11-1968 8-7-1970  Paid off 27-3-1990, sold to Chile Sep 1990 as Ministro Zenteno
Diomede 3 F16 Yarrow 30-1-1968 15-4-1969 2-4-1971 Paid of 31-5-1988, sold 1988 to Pakistan as Shamsher 
Apollo 3 F70 Yarrow 1-5-1969 15-10-1970 28-5-1972 Paid off 31-8-1988, sold to Pakistan July 1988 as Zulfiguar
Ariadne 3 F72 Yarrow 1-11-1969 10-9-1971 10-2-1973 Paid off 30-12-1992, sold to Chile in 1992 as General Banquedano, paid off 1998

"I've got your six!" (or something like that).
HMS Apollo in the prime role of the Type 12: a task force screen; seen here keeping a watchful eye out for an American Carrier
Details given for as built, changes made during life, particularly during major weapon refits.
Displacement 2,450 tons standard, 2,900 tons full load (2,550 and 3,000 for Batch 3)
Length 360 ft waterline, 370 ft overall
Beam 41 ft (43 ft on Batch 3)
Draught 18 ft full load
Propulsion 2 Shafts, Y-100 on Batch 1, Y-130 on Batch 2, Y-160 on Batch 3, two Babcock and Wilcox boilers, two dual reduction English Electric steam turbines, 30,000 shp. Y-130 was quieter version of Y-100, Y-160 introduced remote control functions to allow the engines to be operated from a control centre.
Speed and Range Max speed 30 knots, Range about 4,500 Nm with 460 tons of oil at 12 knots

Twin 4.5" guns on a single Mk VI turret
All Batch 1 armed with two Mk VII Bofors except 1 x quad Seacat GWS-20 AA missiles on Naiad, 1 x quad GWS-22 on HMS Arethusa.
Batch 2 & Batch 3 completed with 1 quad Seacat launcher GWS-22 AA missiles

1 x triple barrel Limbo Anti-Submarine Mortar


Type 993 Target Indication (Later 994)
Type 903 Fire Control on Type GWS-3 Gun Director
Type 904 Fire Control on GWS-22 fitted ships
Type 978 Navigation with RRA Helo Tracker (Later 1006 with RRB)
965 with AKE(1) Long Range Early Warning

1010/1011 IFF

Sonar Type 177 Search, 184 on last four
Type 162 Bottom Search
Type 170 Limbo Attack
Type 199 VDS (Except on last 4 fitted with 184)
182 Decoy
Aux Power 2 x Paxman 12YHAXZ diesels, rated 300 bhp at 900 rpm.(Intercooled version of those fitted to Type 12)

Westland Wasp HAS Mk1
Mk 44 or Mk 46 torpedoes
Depth Charges
Nuclear Depth Bomb
AS11 or AS12 Air to Surface missiles.

ECM UA-3, FH-4 (UA-8 & UA-9 after the first 4) (FH-5 on last 7 except Ariadne which has UA-13)
Chaff shells for 4.5"
Corvus 3" Chaff Rocket Launchers

Extensive alterations have been made to the operation of the ship's life support to enable the ship to have a chance of surviving less conventional warfare. The port holes in the hull have gone, most of the ship now forms a Citadel which can be pressurised above air pressure, any leaks and even minor damage will not allow in contamination as the inside pressure will blow out through gaps. Severely damaged areas can be sealed off, access into and out of the citadel is via airlocks where decontamination teams wait.

Shelter stations provide below the waterline shelter from high radiation levels and the ship is equipped with monitors and a water jet system called "Pre-Wetting" which forms an umberella above the ship, reducing the risk of chemicals, radioactive particles or nerve agents from settling onto the ship. Air into the ship is scrubbed and monitored, at need the ship will recycle it's own air.

The main machinary spaces are not included in the citadel due to problems with the quantity or water and air required for the engines, but the Batch 3 ships will overcome this with remote control systems, for the previous ships Stokers have to wear protective gear in the machinary spaces.

Patch panel and cables. Prime supply on the Type 12s was 440V 3 Phase, extensive provisions were made to bypass damage and get vital power to systems. The motto was "Float - Move - Fight"

Living conditions are good for the period, though cramped the mess decks have enough bunks for all. Hot water is in plentiful supply for the bathrooms and there is a recreational broadcast system for radio when there is reception, home grown music and quizes when not. In later years close circuit TV will be added to augment the showing of reel to reel films in the dining room.

The main lack is space, there is no privacy though some modicum can be simulated by rigging a curtain around a bunk, but there is often conflict on an evening between people wanting to socialise on the seats and the bunk occupants wanting the bunks made up. For this reason the top bunks are a greatly desired luxury as they do not form the seats.

The Mess Decks tend to be noisy, the aft ones are over the ship's screws and the forward ones filled with sea noise, and always there is the roar of the fans. In warm waters the Mess Decks become unbearably hot and stuffy.

Lockers for junior rates are tiny affairs and all possible nooks are utilised to augment them, a valuable asset is the "beddy bag" a zip up mattress cover intended to secure the bunk mattress, pillows, sheets etc into a single pad that is kept strapped securely down in action so as not to clog pumps. carefully arranged clothing and personal posessions can also be stored within them.

A typical mess deck. The bunks are arranged in three layers, the bottom two of which fold away to form a seat bottom and back. The top bunk can remain as a bunk and is greatly sort after by those whose duties keep them up at odd hours. A great improvement is meals are no longer eaten in the living area but in a dedicated dining room.

The first Leanders were completed before Seacat was available and were armed with a pair of Mk VII Bofors in place. Seen here also is the Corvus 3" rocket launchers, six tubes, later updated to eight. The many aerials hint at the batteries of radios available to the ship, allowing them to coordinate complex air, surface and shore operations if needed.

HMS Ariadne, the last four ships were completed without towed array and the stern was plated over. Despite their weapon and sensor fit being obsolete at build the Leander had shown their worth and plans were in place to upgrade them to the latest systems.

End of an era, HMS Scylla in build, the last of the Leanders and the Type 12s, also the last steam ship to be built for the Royal Navy

HMS Phoebe at St Lucia, in their time there was no corner of the world that the Type 12s did not patrol.