Britain’s Oldest Frigate Heads to Middle East


A wave and a cheer for the good ship HMS Argyll from loved ones, gathered at Devil’s Point in Plymouth to see the frigate off on a six-month tour of duty.

Britain’s oldest – but also most powerful – frigate is heading east of Suez to join her sisters in the ongoing international effort to keep the sea lanes free and clamp down on illegal activity.

Already in the region are HMS St Albans and HMS Somerset; the latter’s just arrived, while the Saint is in the second half of her maritime security patrol, which has largely been conducted in the Gulf…

…which is where Argyll is heading, as well as carrying out similar duties in the broader Middle East.

Although at 22 years old Argyll is now the oldest frigate, an 11-month £20m refit in Rosyth ensures she’s also the most capable.

Some 300,000 man hours were spent overhauling existing systems and machinery and fitting new ones: the latest version of the Seawolf air defence missile system, a new main gun, new command system, one new main gas turbine, two generators, and the MOD’s latest e-mail and internet system, DII(F).

It’s taken 13 months to bring the Type 23 out of that refit and turn her into a cutting-edge warship ready for anything that global events can throw at them.

Having not seen operational service for over two years and with an extensive and at times arduous trials and training process under their belt, the 200-plus men and women aboard are keen to get back to the Royal Navy’s core business on the front line.

Whilst deployed, her tasking will include protecting vital international sea lanes from the threat of piracy and terrorism, as well as engagement and capacity building with the UK’s many friends and allies to promote stability across the region.

The crew will continue to training in the first few weeks of deployment ensuring the sailors maintain their edge and to meet any challenges they may face.

The training will include war-fighting, using the traditional weapon systems onboard and drilling her highly trained board and search team, including commandos from the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, to defeat terrorism and piracy.

Add to that some extensive fire fighting and damage control exercises and you get a team that is ready for anything.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the ship and her crew are ready in all respects to face whatever challenges lies ahead and importantly, we recognise the sacrifices made by our families as we leave home for what is a substantial period of tim.,”

Said Argyll’s Commanding Officer, Cdr Paul Stroude.

“I am delighted to be sailing for operational tasking today and am extremely proud of the hard work, perseverance and sheer determination that the whole ship’s company and supporting agencies have put in to get us to this point.”

Source: royalnavy, September 30, 2011