HMS Bristol (D23)

HMS Bristol (D23) is a Type 82 destroyer, the only vessel of her class to be built for the Royal Navy.[2][3] Originally intended as the first of a class of 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 with the CVA-01 carriers in the 1966 Strategic Defence Review. Following a long career which included the Falklands War, she was converted into a training ship in 1987 and continues to serve in that role. HMS Bristol is named after the English city of Bristol.

HMS Bristol D23
United Kingdom
Name: 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 number: D23
Honours and
Falklands 1982
Fate: Harbour Training & Accommodation ship
Badge: HMS Bristol badge
General characteristics
Class and type: Type 82 destroyer
Displacement: 6,400 tonnes (standard), 7,100 tonnes (full)[1]
Length: 155 m (507 ft)
Beam: 17 m (55 ft)
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 knots (52 km/h)
Range: 5,750 nautical miles (10,650 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement: 397 (30 officers)
Aircraft carried: none
Aviation facilities: flight deck


HMS Bristol 7 Jun 2005.jpeg
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[N 1] 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, with 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[4] and then commissioned on 31 March 1973. Her estimated building cost was £24,217,000.[4]

Weapon systems

Bristol saw a number of new systems introduced into the Navy, including the Sea Dart anti-aircraft and Ikara anti-submarine missile systems and was the first Royal Navy ship to carry the 4.5 inch (114 mm) Mk 8 gun. Another addition to the fleet was the new advanced Action Data Automated Weapons System Mk.2 (ADAWS-2), a computer system designed to coordinate the ship's weapons and sensors. ADAWS-2 was a large advance on the rudimentary action information system of its predecessor the County-class destroyers, which was heavily reliant on manual data input.

The 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 complemented by a Mark 10 Limbo anti-submarine mortar.

The single 4.5 inch (113 mm) Mark 8 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 ample 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

Dutch newsreel video (english sub) of HMS Bristol visiting Amsterdam in 1973

The role which Bristol was built for never materialised, and she consequently spent most of her service in the 1970s trialling and building up experience using new weapons and computer systems. A major boiler fire in 1974 destroyed the steam plant. Older ships might have been crippled by this, but Bristol was able to operate for three years using only her gas plant, demonstrating its flexibility and utility. The steam plant was repaired in 1976. In 1979 she was fitted out for frontline service with ECM, Corvus countermeasures launchers and a pair of World War II-era Oerlikon 20 mm cannon. During this refit the Limbo weapon was removed; its well was later used as a makeshift swimming pool.

Falklands War (1982)

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

Bristol was suitable for use as a flagship as she was large enough to embark the extra staff members necessary for this role. She served as the Royal Navy flagship during the 1981 Ocean Safari exercise. 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. On 22 May she fired two Sea Dart missiles at spurious radar returns caused by interference with similar radars fitted on ships within the group.[5] After the destroyer Coventry was hit and subsequently sunk on 25 May, Bristol with Cardiff and Exeter carried out duties in the air warfare role. When the aircraft carrier Hermes, the flagship, returned to the UK, Bristol took over as flagship until 17 September (seemingly with Vice Admiral Derek Reffell aboard), returning to the UK after being relieved by the carrier Illustrious.[6]

On return to the UK she entered a refit and, in light of the lessons of the conflict, 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.

Post-Falklands service

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 that had to be repaired. The major work undertaken in the refit was to replace the obsolete radar Type 965 with the new Type 1022 for long-range air search duties. The Ikara system was removed; it was intended to replace it with two triple STWS-1 launchers for 324 mm anti-submarine torpedoes, but they were never fitted.

Training ship

HMS Bristol D23 (1)
HMS Bristol moored alongside Whale Island, Portsmouth

By the late 1980s the ship was becoming increasingly outdated. As the fleet downsized, maintaining a unique vessel when plenty of other air defence destroyers were in commission no longer seemed worthwhile. HMS Bristol was paid off in 1991 and refitted to again replace HMS Kent, this time as the training ship located at the shore establishment 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 and youth organisations. Many young people from the Sea Cadets, the Combined Cadet Force and the Sea Scouts have their first experience of life on board a warship on Bristol. The Air Training Corps and Army Cadets Units also make use of the facilities. The ship has also been used by a number of colleges running the Edexcel BTEC Public Services course. The ship's company is made up of a mix of Royal Navy and civilian staff.

Refit 2010-11

Bristol was refitted at A&P Tyne, Hebburn. The effects of the refit were said to "...extend the service life of HMS Bristol for 10 years". Work was intended to bring facilities on Bristol in line with health and safety standards.[7] The redundant masts containing the ship's Type 1022 and Type 992Q search radars were removed.[8] She departed from Portsmouth on 20 October 2010,[9] and arrived at Hebburn under tow on the morning of 3 November 2010.[10][11][12] HMS Bristol left Hebburn in April 2011[13] to return to Portsmouth.


  1. ^ Although the 1980-81 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships shows her as a Light Cruiser.


  1. ^ "Type 82 General Purpose Destroyer". HMS Bristol - Type 82 Destroyer. 20 April 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  2. ^ Purvis, M. K. (1974). "Post War RN Frigate and Guided Missile Destroyer Design 1944-1969". Transactions. Royal Institution of Naval Architects. ISSN 1740-0716.
  3. ^ Marriott, Leo (1989). Royal Navy Destroyers since 1945. London, UK: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-1817-0.
  4. ^ a b "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". Defence Estimates, 1973-74 (Report). Ministry of Defence. p. XII-96.
  5. ^ Freedman, Lawrence (2005). The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 473. ISBN 0-415-36431-0.
  6. ^ Morgan, Mike (3 April 2012). "Redcar Falklands veteran went to war as teen sailor". Teesside Gazette. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Yard contract will safeguard 100 jobs". Shields Gazette. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Bristol is back - minus her mast". The News. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  9. ^ "HMS Bristol". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  10. ^ "HMS Bristol". Hebburn Website Message Board. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  11. ^ "HMS Bristol - D23". Trawler Pictures. 2 November 2010. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Sub-Album - HMS Bristol - D23". Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Warship HMS Bristol leaves A&P Tyne at Hebburn after refit". The Journal. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2019.

External links

Coordinates: 50°48.760′N 1°06.036′W / 50.812667°N 1.100600°W

Bristol group

The Bristol group was a group of British warships that were sent to the "Total Exclusion Zone" as reinforcements late in the Falklands War. The majority sailed from the UK on 10 May 1982. The group consisted of:


HMS Bristol (D23), Type 82

HMS Cardiff (D108), Type 42 joined group en route having started in GibraltarFrigates

HMS Active (F171), Type 21 frigate

HMS Andromeda (F57), Leander class

HMS Avenger (F185), Type 21 frigate

HMS Minerva (F45), Leander class

HMS Penelope (F127), Leander classRoyal Fleet Auxiliaries

RFA Bayleaf, support tanker

RFA Olna, fleet tankerThe group reached the task force around 26 May.


D23 may refer to :

Almirante Valdés (D23), a 1959 Spanish Fletcher-class destroyer

ARA Almirante Domecq Garcia (D23), a 1971 Argentine Navy Fletcher class destroyer

Dewoitine D.23, a French Dewoitine aircraft

HMS Bristol (D23), a 1969 British Royal Navy Type 82 destroyer

HMS Premier (D23), a 1943 British Royal Navy escort aircraft carrier

PRR D23, an American PRR 4-4-0 type steam locomotive

D23 (Disney), the official fan club of The Walt Disney Company

Almirante Brión (D23), a Venezuelan Navy Almirante Clemente class destroyer

D23 road (Croatia), a state road

Guided missile destroyer

A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.

In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.

HMS Bristol

Seven ships of the Royal Navy have borne the name HMS Bristol, after the English port city of Bristol:

HMS Bristol (1653) was a 48-gun ship launched in 1653, completely rebuilt in 1693, captured by the French in April 1709, recaptured two weeks later and sunk.

HMS Bristol (1711) was a 54-gun fourth rate launched in 1711. She underwent a rebuild in 1746 which rearmed her with 50 guns, and was broken up in 1768.

HMS Bristol (1775) was a 50-gun fourth rate launched in 1775. She served in the American War of Independence, was used as a prison ship after 1794, and was broken up in 1810.

Bristol was originally the 64-gun third rate HMS Agincourt. She was renamed HMS Bristol when she became a prison ship in 1812. She was sold in 1814 for immediate breaking up.

HMS Bristol (1861) was a wooden screw frigate launched in 1861 and broken up in 1883.

HMS Bristol (1910) was a Town-class light cruiser launched in 1910. She was the name ship of the Bristol subgroup and was sold in 1921.

HMS Bristol 1939 was a training establishment ('stone frigate') set up in House 4 of Muller's Orphanage in Bristol.

HMS Bristol (D23) was a unique Type 82 destroyer launched in 1973 and now permanently moored at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth as a training ship.

List of active Royal Navy ships

The Royal Navy is the principal naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. As of November 2018, there are 74 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy. Of the commissioned vessels, twenty two are major surface combatants (six guided missile destroyers, thirteen frigates, two Landing Platform Docks and one aircraft carrier), and ten are nuclear-powered submarines (four ballistic missile submarines and six fleet submarines). In addition the Navy possesses two amphibious transport docks, thirteen mine countermeasures vessels, twenty-two patrol vessels, four survey vessels, one icebreaker and two historic warships, Victory and Bristol, although Bristol is not commissioned so is not in the ship count.

The Royal Navy operates three bases where commissioned ships are based; HMNB Portsmouth, HMNB Devonport and HMNB Clyde. In addition, a number of commissioned vessels belonging to the University Royal Naval Units (URNU) are stationed at various locations around the United Kingdom. The total displacement of the Royal Navy is approximately 407,000 tonnes (641,000 tonnes including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Marines).

Besides the Royal Navy, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Royal Marines operate their own flotillas of naval vessels which complement the assets of the Royal Navy, however they are not included in this list or the above figures. In addition, the naval training vessels Brecon and Cromer can be found based at the Royal Navy shore establishment HMS Raleigh and the Britannia Royal Naval College, respectively, along with a number of P1000's and Motor Whalers. As a supporting contingent of Her Majesty's Naval Service, the civilian Marine Services operate a large number of auxiliary ships (including coastal logistics, tugs and research vessels) in support of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary operations.All ships and submarines currently in commission with the Royal Navy were built in the United Kingdom, with the exceptions of icebreaker Protector which was built in Norway and survey vessel Magpie which was substantially built in Ireland. All vessels of the Royal Navy bear the ship prefix "HMS", for Her Majesty's Ship.

 Royal Navy
 Royal Fleet Auxiliary
United Kingdom Ships Taken Up From Trade
 Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
Aircraft carriers
warfare ships
Mine counter
measures vessels
Patrol vessels
Survey vessels


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.